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It is deemed proper on the appearance of this, the first published 
Monograph of the United States Geological Survey, to call attention to 
the statute, approved March 3, 1879, which declares that — 

The publications of the Geological Survey shall consist of the annual report of operations, 
geological and economic maps illustrating the resources and classification of the lands, and reports 
upon general and economic geology and paleontology. The annual report of operations of the 
Geological Survey shall accompany the annual report of the Secretary of the Interior. All special 
memoirs and reports of said Survey shall be issued in uniform quarto series if deemed necessary by the 
Director, but otherwise in ordinary octavos. Three thousand copies of each shall be published for 
scientific exchanges and for sale at the price of publication; and all literary and cartographic 
materials received in exchange shall be the property of the United States and form a part of the 
library of the organization: And the money resulting from the sale of such publications shall be 
covered into the Treasury of the United States. 

From this it will be seen that only the annual reports, which form 
parts of the reports of the Secretary of the Interior and are printed as 
executive documents, are available for gratuitous distribution. While a 
number of them are furnished the Survey for its exchange list, the bulk of 
them are supjDlied directly, through the document-rooms of Congress, to 
members of the Senate and House. Except, therefore, in those cases in 
which an extra number is supplied to this office by special resolution, 
application must be made to members of Congress for the annual report, 
as for all other executive documents. 

The Monographs of the Survey are printed for the Survey alone, and 
can be distributed by it only through a fair exchange for books needed in 
its library, or through the sale of those copies over and above the number 
needed for such exchange. They are not for gratuitous distribution. 

The first of these Monographs in numeric order is: The Precious 
Metals of the United States, by Clarence King. This will appear 
during the coming year. The second in numeric order but the first in 
order of publication is the present work: The Tertiary History of the 
Grand Canon District, by Capt. C. E. Button. 

The price of this volume, with atlas, is $ 

Correspondence relating to this and all other Monographs of the 
Survey, and all remittances, should be addressed to the 

Director of the United States Geological Survey, 

Washington, D. C. 



United States Geological Survey 











,fM X.. 



] S S 2 

Department of the Intekior, 

United States Geological Survey, 

Washington, D. C, March 1, 1881. 
Hon. Clarence King, 

Director of the Geological Survey : 
Sir: Herewith I have the honor to transmit in monographic form the 
results of my survey of the Grand Canon District, or the region which 
drains into the Grand and Marble Canons of the Colorado River of the 

With great respect, your obedient servant, 

Captain of Ordnance, U. S. A. 



Ever since his memorable journey through the canons of the Colorado 
River it has been Major Powell's intention to write a description of the 
region adjacent to the Grand Canon and to discuss its geological problems. 
It is to be regretted that other duties have prevented him. There is no one 
so well fitted for it, and his right to do so is virtually prescriptive. But 
the time and opportunity never came to him. When Mr. King assumed 
the Directorship of the Survey he acceded to Major Powell's desire to have 
the work in the Grand Canon district prosecuted, and, in accordance with 
the wishes of the latter, I was assigned to the immediate charge of it. 
Much of it was familiar ground. During the seasons spent in the study of 
the High Plateaus I had found the temptation iri-esistible to wander far 
outside of the limits of my prescribed field ; and whither should the errant 
geologist turn his footsteps so eagerly as towards the wonder-land of the 
south? And so, when the early snows and biting winds of autumn drove 
us out of the lofty volcanic regions of the north, the remaining weeks of 
each year were spent in rapid excursions tlii'ough the milder regions which 
lie beyond the foot of the great stairway of terraces which leads down 
from the heights of the Markagunt. 

In the summer of 1879 Messrs. Bodfish and Renshawe were employed 
in making detail maps of more than ordinary accuracy, the former in the 
Kaibab, the latter in the Uinkaret. Mr. Renshawe completed his field 
work that season and finished his map in the office the following winter. 
But Mr. Bodfish's work was much more extensive and difiicult, requiring 


viii PEEPACE. 

another field season. Both are entitled to high praise for the skill and 
ability which they have proven by their results. 

In the summer of 1880 I revisited the district for the purpose of 
making a study of the Uinkaret, and as much of other portions as possible. 
The geological problems proposed were purely physical. With questions 
of mere stratigraphy, paleontology, or lithology, I resolved to have no 
more to do than was essential to an elucidation of the physical questions. 
The latter are remarkable, and in some respects unique. To present them 
most clearly and sharply it seemed necessary to disencumber them as much 
as possible of all subsidiary questions not absolutely essential to their 
comprehension. Nor did it seem at all satisfactory to gather up disjointed 
facts merely to swell the aggregate, already vast, of imreduced and uncor- 
related observations. It is not enough to know the facts; their meaning is 
of much greater concern. I have striven, therefore, to group them in their 
natural order and relations, in order that they may yield testimony as to 
the causes and processes which have made this region what it is. 

I have in many places departed from the severe ascetic style which 
has become conventional in scientific monographs. Perhaps no apology is 
called for. Under ordinary circumstances the ascetic discipline is necessary. 
Grive the imagination an inch and it is apt to take an ell, and the funda- 
mental requirement of scientific method — accuracy of statement — is im- 
periled. But in the Grand Canon district there is no such danger. The 
stimulants which are demoralizing elsewhere ai-e necessary here to exalt 
the mind sufficiently to comprehend the sublimity of the subjects. Their 
sublimity has in fact been hitherto underrated. Great as is the fame of 
the Grand Canon of the Colorado, the half remains to be told. 

During the summer of 1880 I was so fortunate as to have the com- 
panionship and assistance of Mr. Holmes. His reputation as a field- 
geologist is already established by his work in connection with Dr. 
Hayden's Survey. But besides rendering valuable assistance in working 
out geological details he made many sketches which he has reproduced in 
the pictures of the text and in the panoramas of the Atlas. To praise such 
work would be superfluous. But I must call attention to a merit which 


may not be so obvious to one who has never seen the region, and this is 
the wonderful fidehty with which he portrays rock-characters. 

The Atlas has been printed by Mr. Julius Bien, of New York, who 
spared no pains or effort to obtain the best possible results of the litho- 
graphic art under the limitations imposed upon him. His success will not 
be questioned. 




Chapter I.— General description of the topographic and geologic features of the 

Grand Canon district 9 

II. — The Mesozoic terraces upon the northern border of the district 26 

III.— A description of the Vermilion Cliffs and of the Valley op the Virgen- 51 

IV. — The Great Denudation 61 

v.— The Toroweap Valley and the middle portion of the Grand Canon 78 

VI. — The IJinkaret Plateau 101 



VIII.— The SCENERY' of the Grand Canon in the ICjVibab division viewed from 

Point Sublime 140 

IX.- — The amphitheaters of the Kaibab division 157 

X. — Structural geology and evolution of the Kaibab Plateau 183 

XI. — The Paria Plateau and the Marble Canon Platform 199 

XII. — Phy'sical History and evolution of the Grants CaSton district 206 

XIII. — The excavation of the Grand Canon — corrasion and weathering 230 

XIV.— The excavation of the Grand Canon— origin of the details of its erosion. 250 


Plate I.— Looking up tbe Valley of tlie Virgen. This illustration is from a sketch by Mr. Holmes. 
The strata across the river showing jiale belted colors arc the lower Permian. Be- 
yond them on the right and in the background is the Smithsonian Butte, composed 
of Triassic strata. The great Temples and Towers are not visible. Chromo-litho- 
graphed by Sinclair. (Frontispiece.) 
II. — A geological section across the platform of the Grand Canon district from the Grand Wash 
to the Echo Cliffs. (Opposite page 10.) 

III. — A geological section from north to south through the Grand Canon district from the Mar- 
k^gunt Plateau to the Aubrey Cliffs south of the San Francisco Mountains. (Oppo- 
site page 16.) 

IV. — Colored map on a small scale showing the distribution of the Eocene, Mesozoic, and Per- 
mian strata aronud the greater part of the central Carboniferous platform of the dis- 
trict. (Opposite page 28.) 
V. — ^The Pink Cliffs (Eocene) upon the southern end of the Pauns%unt Plateau. Drawn from 
a photograph by W. H. Holmes. Wood-cut. (Opposite page 30.) 

VI. — The Mesa Verde. Illustrating the general asjiect of the Cretaceous strata in the heart of 
the Plateau Province. Reproduced from a line drawing by W. H. Holmes. His Eo- 
port in Dr. Hayden's Ninth Annual Report of the Survey of the Territories. Photo- 
engraving. (Opposite page 32.) 



Plate VII.— The. Jurassic Cliffs or Wliite Cliffs, consisting of very massive, cross-bedded sandstone. 
This is the more common aspect of the cliffs in this formation and the view is quite 
typical. Heliotype. (Opposite page 34.) 
VIII. — A Midsummerday's Dream on the Colob. Showing the curions and quaint forms given to 
the remnants of the Jurassic white sandstone in an advanced stage of denudation. 
Drawn by W. H. Holmes from a photograph. Wood-cut. (Opposite page 36.) 
IX.— The Jurassic terrace on the Colob. The subject is of the same general nature as the pre- 
ceding. The curious forms are due in great part to the cross-beddiug of the Jurassic 
white sandstone. In the distance are the summits of the Temples of the Virgen. 
Drawn from a photograph by Thomas Moran. Wood-cut. (Opposite page 38.) 
X.— The Vermilion Cliffs at Kanab. Illustrating the general character of theTriassic escarp- 
ment east of the Pipe Spring Promontory. The altitude of the cliffs back of the vil- 
lage varies from 1,100 to 1,300 feet. Heliotype. (Opposite page 40.) 
XL— Land of the Standing Eocks. Showing the characters of the Permian buttes in the heart 
of the Plateau country. The scene here represented is near the junction of the 
Grand and Green Rivers. Drawn from a photograph by W. H. Holmes. Wood-cut. 
(Opposite page 46.) 
XIL— Permian Butte. Illustrating the character of the upper Permian, with the Shinarump 
conglomerate above. The finely bedded shales are the brilliantly colored beds of 
this formation. Drawn by W. H. Holmes. Photo-engraving. (Opposite page 52.) 
XIII.— Towers at Short Creek. Showing the buttressed and columnar aspect of the Vermilion 
Cliffs as we approach the Valley of the Virgen from the southeast. These clifl^ rise 
about 1,800 feet above the plain. The columnar portion is the great sandstone bed 
of the upper Trias. Drawn by W. H. Holmes. Photo-engraving. (Oiiposite page 54.) 
XIV.— Summit of the Western Temple of the Virgen. Drawn by W. H. Holmes in the style of 
an etching. Wood-cut. (Opposite page 58.) 
XV.— Summit of the Eastern Temple of the Virgen. Drawn by W. H. Holmes. Wood-cut. 

(Opposite page 57.) 
XVI.— A pinnacled gable of the Toroweap. Drawn by W. H. Holmes. Wood-cut. (Opposite 

page 84.) 
XVII. — The Grand Caiion at the foot of Toroweap looking up stream. This view is taken from 
the great esplanade at the brink of the Inner Gorge, The river is about 3,000 feet 
below, an<l Ihe summit of the wall, of which a fragment is seen in the distant gable, 
is about 1,900 feet above the esplanade. Heliotype. (Opposite page 86.) 
XVIII. —Dikes in the canon wall. A view from the opposite side of the Inner Gorge. The darkly 
shaded portions represent the protruding dikes in the wall. Upon the further brink 
is the remnant of a basaltic cinder cone, now largely undermined and destroyed. To 
the left are sheets of colunmar basalt, and near the left margin the effect of the 
Toroweap fault shearing these beds is shown. Its effect also is shown in the back- 
ground where the horizontal continuity of the strata is broken. Drawn by W. H. 
Holmes. Photo-engraving. (Opposite page 92.) 
XIX.— Lava falls in the Grand Caiion. These occur immediately beneath the scene of the pre- 
ceding illustration. From a photograph. Drawu by Thomas Moran. Wood-cut. 
(Opposite page 98.) 
XX.— View of Mount Trumbull from Mount Logan. Mount Trumbull consists of Permian 
strata, heavily capped by basalt of considerable antiquity, probably early Pliocene. 
Upon the right llank of the mountain is a knob, which is a much more recent basaltic 
cinder cone, sending down heavy streams of lava to the plain below. Drawn by W. 
H. Holmes. Wood-cut. (Opposite page 106.) 
XXL— Recent lava flow on the Uiukaret. This basalt field appears to be extremely recent, and 
the lava looks as fresh as the eruptions which have come from Vesuvius within the 
last twenty or thirty years. Drawn by W. H. Holmes. Wood-cut. (Opposite page 
XXIL— The Hurricane Fault in the Queantoweap Valley. The fault here has four branches, of 
which three appear in the sketch, and they are very manifest in the topography. 
Drawn bv W. H. Holmes. Photo-engraving. (Opposite page 116.) 



XXIII. — Sunset on the Kanab Desert. From the brink of the Permiau Clitf — a Peiuiiau butte iu 
the foreground, the Vermilion Clitts iu the distance, aud the Jurassic white sand- 
stone in the exti-eme bacliground. Drawn by W. H. Holmes. Ohromo-lithographed 
by Sinclair. (Opposite page 124.) 
XXIV. — Kanab Cauon. This cut has already been published in Picturesque America. The pin- 
nacle or tower is in the Ked WaU. limestone, and is about 780 feet high. Drawn by 
Thomas Moran. Wood-cut. (Opposite page 126.) 
XXV. — Kanab Canon, near the junction of Kanab Creek with the Colorado. About 2,800 feet of 
wall is shown here, the upper jiortion being the Red Wall. The upper walls (Aubrey) 
are not disclosed. The depth of Kanab Cauon hero is about 4,700 feet. Drawn by 
Thomas Moran. Wood-cut. (Opposite page 128.) 
XXVI. — De Motte Park. The largo park on the summit of theKaibab, about 8,700 feet above 
sea-level. It is an ancient river valley. Drawn by Thomas Moran. Wood-out. 
(Opposite page 134.) 
XXVII. — A lagoon on the Kaibab. Drawn by Thomas Moran. Wood-cut. (Opposite page 136.) 
XXVIII. — Key to the panorama, from Point Sublime looking east. The panorama is given iu large 
size in the Atlas. (Ojiposite page 142.) 
XXIX. — The same; middle part of the panorama looking south. (Opposite page 144.) 
XXX. — The same looking west. (Opposite page 146.) 
XXXI. — Granite Falls. A scene in the inner gorge of the Kaibab division. The river here is deep 
inthe Archtean. Drawn by Thomas Moran from a photograph. Wood-cut. (Oppo- 
site page 1.50. ) 
XXXII. — Pinnacles iu the upper -wall of the Kaibab division. Drawu by W. H. Holmes. Wood- 
cut. (Opposite page 166.) 
XXXIII. — An amphitheater in the Red Wall. The view is from below, and illustrates the rounded 
character of an amphitheater at its head. The upper walls are not visible. Drawn 
by W. H. Holmes. Wood-cut. (Opposite jiage 170.) 
XXXIV. — Vishnu's Temple. This is the finest butte in the chasm. It is situated near the head of 
the Grand Canon, and is more than a mile high. Drawn by W. H. Holmes. Photo- 
engraving. (Opijosite page 176.) 
XXXV. — The great unconformity at the head of the Grand CaBon between the Carboniferous and 

Silurian. Drawn by W. H. Holmes. Photo-engraving. (Opposite page 178.) 
XXXVI. — The Marble Caiion. This cut has been published by Picturesque America. Drawu by 

Thomas Moran. Wood-cut. (Opposite page 202.) 
XXXVII. — Head of the Grand Caiion. Drawn by Thomas Moran from a photograph. Wood-cut. 
(Opposite page 212.) 
XXXVIII. — A canon refilled with alluvium. In the distance the Jurassic white sandstone appears in 
clitfs. The alluvium has been washed iu probably since the glacial period. The 
locality is known as Johnson's Caiion, twelve miles east of Kanab. Heliotype. 
(Opposite page 228.) 
XXXIX. — Profile of the Colorado in its course through the Grand Caiion. Diagram. Photo-en- 
gra^dng. (Opposite page 240.) 
XL. — Development of cliff profiles. (Opposite page 250.) 

XLI. — Panels or niches iu the Red Wall limestone. These panels are very numerous and are a 
characteristic feature of the Red Wall escarpment. They are from 400 to 800 feet 
high, and in the jirescnt instance rather more than 600 feet high. Their origin or 
causation is unknown. Drawn by W. H. Holmes. Wood-cut. (Opposite page 256.) 
XLII. — Plastic map showing the horizontal projections of caiion topography, and especially illus- 
trating the inward rounded form of all the recesses, great and small, with projecting 
cusps between. Drawn by J. Enthofier. Photo-engraving. (Opposite page 258.) 



Sheet I. — Title page. 

II. — Sketch map (colored) sliowiug the distribution of the strata in the wcsteru half of the 

Plateau Proviuce. 
III. — Sketch map showing the approximate positions aud courses of the faults of the Grand 

Canon district and of the High Plateaus. 
IV. — The Valley of the Virgen. Described in Chapter III. Drawn by \V. H. Holmes. 
V. — Looking up the Toroweap Valley from "Vulcan's Throne." Described in Chapter V. 

Drawn by W. H. Holmes. 
VI. — Looking up the Grand Canon from "Vulcan's Throne." Described in Chapter V. 
Drawn by W. H. Holmes. 
VII. — Map of the Uinkaret Plateau, northern portion colored. Topography by J. 11. Een- 

shawe. Geology by Capt. C. E. Duttou. 
VIII. — Map of the Uinkaret Plateau, southern portion colored. Topography by J. H. Eeu- 
shawe. Geology by Capt. C. E. Dutton. 
IX. — Views looking east and south from Mount Trumbull. Described in Chapters V and VI. 

Drawn by W. H. Holmes. 
X. — Two views, one looking north I'rom Mount Trumbull, the other looking north from 

Mount Emma. See Chapter VI. Drawn by W. H. Holmes. 
XI, XII, XIII, and XIV. — Map of the southern portion of the Kaibab Plateau, colored. Tii- 

pography by S. H. Bodfi-sh. Geology by Capt. C. E. Dutton. 
XV, XVI, XVII. — Panorama iu the Kaibab division of the Grand Canon from Point Sublime. 
Described in Chapter VIII. Drawn by W. H. Holmes. 
XVIII. — The Transept. View of an amphitheater of the second order from above. Described 
in Chapter IX. Drawn by Thomas Moran from a sketch by W. H. Holmes. 
XIX. — View of the Marble Canon platform from the eastern brink of the Kaibab. Described 
iu Chapter XI. Drawn by W. H. Holmes. 
XX, XXI, XXII, and XXIII. — Geological sheets, colored, of the Grand Cauou district. 





This work is chiefly devoted to a description of the methods and 
results of erokion upon a grand scale. Since erosion depends for its effi- 
ciency principally upon the progressive elevation of a region, and upon 
its climatal conditions, these collateral subjects are also discussed in their 
relations to the principal theme. And in general such an erosion influences 
and is in turn influenced by the whole train of phenomena of which physi- 
cal geology takes account. I have endeavored to show in what manner 
and to what extent the most important of these events and groups of events 
are correlated. In the analysis and synthesis of these processes may be 
found the materials for reconstructing the history of the evolution of the 
physical features of the region. This history is indeed but an outline, but 
in it appear many things which would not readily be discerned without 
such a comparison. 

Chapter I gives a brief and summary account of the geography of 
the Grand Canon district and of the distribution both of its topographical 
and of its principal geological features. It is situated chiefly in north- 
western Arizona, with an extension northward into Utah. Its length 
from northwest to southeast may be taken arbitrarily at about 180 miles, 
and its width from northeast to southwest at about 125 miles. As no nat- 
ural boundary can be fixed for its southern portion, its area may be placed 


anywhere between 13,000 and 16,000 square miles. The Colorado River 
of the West runs across the middle of the district in a very tortuous course, 
averaging west-southwest. Its valley is the Marble Canon and Grand 
Canon.* That part of the district which lies south of the river has been 
reconnoitered but not thoroughly studied. Its broader geological features 
are in great part known, but its details remain to be worked out. The por- 
tion which lies north of the river has been studied in considei-able detail. 
Upon the northern side six subdivisions may be recognized. Upon the 
extreme north is a series of terraces carved by erosion out of the Mesozoic 
and lower Eocene strata, which, covering all the region of the High Pla- 
teaus, suddenly terminate in a succession of high cliffs, dropping step by 
step to lower and lower formations, like a great stairway. At the foot of 
the stairway is the comparatively smooth platform of the summit Carbon- 
iferous, which stretches southward and southeastward into central Arizona 
for 150 miles or more. The "Terraces" form one subdivision, and are a 
border country between the High Plateaus on the north and the Grrand 
Canon district on the south, and may be regarded as the appanage of either 
district. The main Carboniferous platform north of the river may be sub- 
divided into five distinct plateaus. On the west is the Sheavwits Plateau ; 
next in order towards the east is the Uinkaret; the third is the Kanab Pla- 
teau, the fourth is the Kaibab, and the fifth is the Paria Plateau. 

The dividing lines between these plateaus are well marked, consisting 
of great faults or equivalent monoclinal flexures, trending north and south. 
The westernmost fault bounds the Sheavwits Plateau as well as the district 
itself, and is named the Grand "Wash fault. Beyond it, to the westward, is a 
region having features very similar to those of the Great Basin of Nevada. 
Next in order towards the east are the Hurricane and the Toroweap faults. 
Between the last two is the Uinkaret Plateau. Passing across the Kanab 
platform we reach the Kaibab, which is hoisted to a greater altitude than 
the others, with the West Kaibab fault on one side and the East Kaibab 

* This name has been repeatedly infriiiged for purposes of advertisement. The canon of the Yel- 
lowstone has been called "The Grand Canon." A more flagrant piracy is the naming of the gorge of 
the Arkansas River in Colorado "The Grand Canon of Colorado," and many persons who have visited. 
it have been persuaded that they have seen the great chasm. These river valleys are certainly very 
pleasing and picturesque, but there is no more comparison between them and the mighty chasm of the 
Colorado River than there is between the Alleghenies or Trosachs and the Himalayas.' 


monocline on the other. The Paria Plateau is situated at a lower level 
than the others. East of the latter we come upon the margins of the 
Mesozoic formations, which wall the Grand Canon district upon the eastern 
side and present their broken edges towards it in the Echo Cliffs. 

Chapter II gives an account of the Terraces and the strata which they 
disclose. It also points out the extension of those strata westward and 
southwestward into the sierra country of southern Nevada, where they 
assume a littoral character around the Mesozoic mainland, whence their 
materials were derived. This mainland occupied what is now the site of 
the Great Basin of Nevada and western Utah. The extensions of the 
Mesozoic system along the eastern side of, the Grand Canon district are 
also pointed out. They reach far south into the heart of Arizona and 
beyond the limits of observation. The edges of the Mesozoic system are 
found encompassing about two-thirds of the periphery of the district. The 
remaining part of the cii'cuit now appears to have been the locus of a shore- 
line. The peculiarities of the cliffs of the terraces are also described and 
the drainage system is explained. 

Chapter III is mainly devoted to a description of the Vermilion Cliffs 
which bound the Triassic terrace. It is written in effusive style, and is an 
attempt to portray the magnificent scenery which this colossal wall presents. 
Its grandeur culminates in the Valley of the Virgen, which is not only of 
great proportions, but is remarkable and even unrivaled for the beauty and 
coloring of its rock temples. There is added to this chapter a description 
of the lowest or Permian terrace. 

Chapter IV is devoted to the inference that the Permian, Mesozoic, 
and Tertiary formations, now ending cliff-wise in the terraces, once ex- 
tended over the entire expanse of the Carboniferous platform of the Grand 
Canon district. During Tertiary time they were denuded, and the total 
thickness of strata thus swept away, though varying somewhat and per- 
haps notably in different places, averaged probably about 1), 000 feet. The 
evidences upon which this conclusion rests are discussed at some length 
and carefully criticised, and the conclusion is believed to be well sustained 
by the evidence. 

The argument for the conclusions reached is mainly derived from the 


convergence of three groups of facts upon a common inference: 1, the 
stratification; 2, the displacements; 3, the lateral drainage system In 
some respects the argument is novel, and in all respects its various ele- 
ments are pushed to a much greater extreme than there is precedent for in 
the works of physical geologists ; but this is held to be justified by the 
wonderful clearness and simplicity of the observed facts, which are quite 
unparalleled in any other portion of the world. 

In Chapter V the descriptive treatment is resumed for the purpose of 
developing additional facts bearing upon the broader problems of the evo- 
lution of the physical features of the region, upon the sequence of events 
and the epochs of their occurrQuce. With this purpose the reader is con- 
ducted in an imaginary journey from the base of the Vermilion Cliffs across 
the Carboniferous platform to the Toroweap Valley and to the Grand 
Canon. The Toroweap is a broad lateral valley upon the eastern flank of 
the Uinkaret, cut down only two-fifths of the depth of the great chasm. It 
enters the Grand Canon, opening upon the great esplanade between its 
upper walls. The canon here is at its narrowest. It consists of an inner 
and an outer chasm. The upper or outer one is about five miles in width, 
with a row of palisades on either side 2,000 feet high, and with a flat broad 
esplanade between. In the floor of this esplanade is sunk the inner gorge 
3,000 feet deeper, and from 3,000 to 3,500 feet wide. The total depth 
of the canon here is about 5,000 feet. After a hurried mention of the 
principal features of this stupendous scenery the reader is invited to 
take his seat upon "Vulcan's Throne," a basaltic cinder cone 600 feet high, 
planted upon the brink of the inner gorge just where the axis of the Toro- 
weap intersects that of the canon. Apart from the merely scenic effects it 
would be hard to find anywhere in the world a spot presenting so much 
material for the contemplation of the geologist. The Toroweap fault is 
clearly revealed in the opposite canon wall and its recency disclosed. It is 
also shown that the vast inner gorge has been very recently excavated, and 
that it was swiftly cut. Its age is regarded as being mostly Post-Tertiary. 
The outer chasm is shown to be much older, and it is very probable that the 
river, after cutting down to the level of the esplanade, remained for a time 
stationary, and ceased temporarily to deepen its channel. The age of the 


Toroweap Valley is also inferred. It appears to be the channel of an an- 
cient river long since dried up. It is the type of a number of ancient trib- 
utaries of the Colorado, which collectively throw light upon its Tertiary 
history. Many other facts are recited, for which the reader is referred to 
the chapter itself 

Chapter VI describes the Uinkaret Plateau. Since the Uinkaret and 
Sheavwits are very similar to each other in their geological features and 
relations, the former alone is discussed as the type of the two. Three sub- 
jects receive attention: 1st, the volcanism; 2d, the Hurricane fault; 3d, 
the remnants of Permian strata. The lavas are all basaltic and very homo- 
genous in character. They are of two ages, the earlier being referred 
approximately to the early Pliocene or possibly late Miocene, the later to 
very recent time, some being probably but a very few centuries old. A 
long interval of time separated the two eruptive periods. 

The Hurricane fault is also described at length, and its comparative 
recency pointed out. The Permian remnants here are important as relics 
of an ancient topography preserved by the protection of the more ancient 
basalts, and as indicating the former extension of that formation over the 
entire district. The lavas, the fault, and the Permian all throw light on 
the sequence, epochs and relations, of those events which make up the his- 
tory of the region. Each by itself would be of little moment. But by 
grouping them together in their proper relations and viewing them as a 
whole they reveal much. It now begins to appear that the chasm had its 
origin in the latter part of Tertiary time, that the faults are no older, and 
that they, as well as the volcanism of the region, are associated with periods 
of upheaval, and that these periods are reflected in the various stages of the 
excavation of the chasm. The great denudation also finds further support 
in the facts here presented. 

Chapter VII resumes the narrative treatment, and the i-eader is con- 
ducted on an imaginary journey from the base of the Vermilion Cliffs to 
the Kaibab Plateau and upon its summit to the brink of the chasm. Along 
the route such facts as are of special geological interest are noted and 
remarked upon, and the attempt is made to convey a mental picture of the 
region traversed. I have taken the liberty in this chapter of attacking the 


reader through his imagination, and, while trying to amuse his fancy with 
pictures of travel, have sought to thrust upon him unawares certain facts 
which I regard as of importance, but which would have been overlooked 
or forgotten if treated in the ordinary fashion of formal monographs. 

Chapter VIII is a description of the scenery of the Kaibab division 
of the Grrand Canon from Point Sublime, one of the promontories which 
project far out into the heart of the chasm. It is one of many panoramas 
all of which are sublime in the highest degree. The scenery of the Kaibab 
division is very much grander than in other divisions of the chasm, and even 
the least imposing portions of the canon are in their general effects upon the 
sensibilities as impressive as any scenery to be found in the world. 

Chapter IX describes the larger and more striking amphitheaters along 
the Kaibab front. It also contains an account of the great unconformity 
disclosed at the head of the Grand Canon. For a distance of twelve miles 
may be seen in the depths of the chasm the contact of the Carboniferous 
with a vast mass of Silurian and possibly some Devonian strata. The latter 
are inclined at a varying angle of dip, and at the plane of contact are 
beveled off to a smooth sxu-face, which at the beginning of Carboniferous 
time was no doubt sensibly horizontal. 

Chapter X explains the structural features and the somewhat intricate 
drainage system of the surface of the Kaibab Plateau, and discusses their 
relations to the evolution of the chasm and of the plateau itself The dis- 
placements occurring on either side of the plateau, are described in some 
detail. The drainage system, consisting of a minutely ramified plexus of 
ravines, is accorded a very recent origin, with the exception of one remark- 
able valley spoken of in Chapter VII. This valley is shown to be probably 
an ancient river channel, tributary to the Colorado, but dried up at a very 
early stage of the excavation of the present canon. 

Chapter XI treats in a very brief and cursory manner of the Paria 
Plateau and of the Marble Canon platform. 

Chapter XII generahzes, interprets, and draws conclusions from the 
facts set forth in all of the preceding chapters, and groups them into a his- 
tory of the evolution of the region. Prior to Carboniferous time large 
masses of Silurian strata and some Devonian beds were deposited. The 


countiy was then upheaved, enormously eroded and again submerged. 
Upon the denuded surface the Carboniferous was deposited unconformably, 
and deposition continued without notable interruption until the close of the 
Mesozoic In that long succession of ages from 12,000 to lfi,000 feet of 
strata accumulated over the entire Plateau Province. The beds are remark- 
able for their homogeneity and constancy of character over vast areas, 
though the different formations vary greatly in lithological character; that 
is to say, homogeneity in horizontal range, with great heterogeneity in ver- 
tical range. The Carboniferous system may have accumulated in waters 
of moderate depth, but the Mesozoic beds are all shallow-water deposits 
The surface of deposition remained throughout Permian and Mesozoic 
time very near sea level, which is equivalent to saying that the beds sank 
as rapidly as they accumulated. Near the close of the Cretaceous signs of 
the coming revolution make their appearance. The waters became brack- 
ish, indicating a restricted access of the ocean. At the close of the Creta- 
ceous important disturbances took place, and portions of the province were 
uplifted and denuded. These were again submerged, but the new con- 
ditions differed from the old, for the new deposits (Eocene) laid down un- 
conformably upon the Cretaceous and Jurassic are of fresh-water origin, 
indicating that a great lake was formed. The extent of this lake corre- 
sponds very nearly with that of the Southern Plateau Province itself, but 
not exactly. Near the middle Eocene began that slow action which has 
gradually elevated the western portion of the continent, and which has 
prevailed until a recent epoch. It does not appear to have progressed at a 
constant rate, but rather by maxima and minima, or still more probably 
through alternating periods of activity and repose. 

The Tertiary history of the region is a great chapter of erosion. Many 
thousands of feet of strata have been swept away. The thickness removed 
from some large areas amounts to about 10,000 feet, while from others a 
much less thickness has been denuded. In the Grand Canon district we 
find the largest area of maximum erosion. Much the greater part of this 
denudation was probably accomphshed by the close of the Miocene. 

The Colorado River appears to have originated in very early Tertiary 
time as the outlet of the great Eocene lake, and hes persisted in its course 


ever since. It has been the main track along which the waste of the prov- 
ince has been carried to the Pacific. At its beginning its bed lay in Eocene 
strata, and as the land rose it cut down its channel by corrasion, severing 
in succession all the beds of the Mesozoic and Carboniferous systems 
That portion of it which constitutes the Grand and Marble Canons has cut 
through 10,000 to 16,000 feet of beds, reaching a maximum amount in the 
Kaibab. The present Grand Canon represents only the corrasion through 
the Carboniferous and into the Archaean. The older corrasion of superior 
beds becomes manifest only when we restore in imagination the Mesozoic 
strata which have been denuded from the vicinity of the chasm. The pres- 
ent Grand Canon therefore is the work of late Tertiary and Quaternary 
time. Although we cannot fix with pi-ecision the exact epoch at which the 
river first penetrated the Carboniferous beds, we may in roughly approxi- 
mate language place that epoch near the beginning of the Pliocene or close 
of the Miocene. These terms, however, are used with considerable latitude. 
Some critical events in the subsequent development of the chasm are pointed 
out and the evidences cited. 

Chapters XIII and XIV deal with the mechanical laws, forces, and 
methods of action by which the canon has been corraded and eroded, and 
explain how those abnormal architectural forms so abundantly displayed 
in the chasm and in the region roundabout have been generated. 



Subdivisions of the Plateau Province. — The boundaries of the Grand CaBon district. — The western 
boundary at the Grand Wash.— Its northern border along the terraces. — The southern and south- 
western margin at the Aubrey Cliffs.— The Sheavwlts Plateau. — The Uinkaret. — The Kauab 
Plateau. — The Kaibab. — The Paria Plateau and Marble Canon platform. — The Kalparowits. — 
The Colorado Plateau south of the river. — The San Francisco Mountains. — The terraces forming 
the border region descending from the High Plateaus to the Grand Canon platform.— The Eocene 
andMesozoic strata of these terraces and their terminal cliffs. — The Vermilion Cliffs.- The Per- 
mian terrace. — Eastern boundary of the district along the Echo Cliffs and terminations of the 
Mesozoic strata of the central mesas of the province. — The displacements.— General inclination 
of the great Carboniferous platform of the district. — The systematic character of the faults. — 
The Grand Wash fault. — Hurricane fault. — Toroweap fault. — Southern termination of the Sevier 
fault. — Western and Eastern Kaibab displacements. — Echo Cliff monocliue. — General arrange- 
ment of the faults. — The drainage system of the region. — Course of the Colorado through the 
district in the Marble and Grand Canons. — Divisions of the Grand Canon. — Its length and diraen- 
sions.— Its general characteristics in the several plateaus which it traverses. — The rivers of the 
terraces. — The Virgen. — Kanab Eiver. — Paria Eiver. — Paucity of tributaries to the Giaud Canon. 

In numerous works upon western geology those features which give 
the Plateau Province its distinct character have been the subjects of ex- 
tended description; and its boundaries, so far as they have been discovered, 
have been indicated. They are gradually becoming familiar to students of 
geology, and no general account of them is deemed necessary here. The 
province is capable of subdivision into component districts, each of which, 
while preserving the plateau features, has peculiarities of its own. Three 
of these have already been the subjects of special monographs;* viz, the 
Uinta Mountains, the Henry Mountains and the High Plateaus. The in- 
terest in this remarkable province no doubt culminates in that portion of 
it which drains into the Grand Canon of the Colorado. This is the western- 
most — perhaps we may say the southwesternmost — portion of the Plateau 

* These three monographs are the published Eeports of the Geographical and Geological Survey 
.of the Eocky Mountain Eegion, J. W. Powell in charge. The first of them, "The Geology of the Uinta 
Mountains," is the work of J. W. Powell; the second, "The Henry Mountains," is by G. K. Gilbert; the 
third, " Geology of the High Plateaus of Utah," is by C. E. Button. They were all originally contem- 
plated as subsidiary to a more general treatise upon the geology of the Plateau couutry at large. 



country. North of it rise the High Plateaus of Utah; to the eastward are 
the central regions of the Plateau Province; and to the southward and west- 
ward is a sierra country, which remains to be well explored before its dis- 
tinctive features can be described. Upon the west the district terminates 
abruptly upon the brink of a great wall, where the surface of the country 
drops at once from an elevation of more than 6,000 feet to levels ranging 
from 1,300 to 3,000 feet above the sea. Every traveler in the far west has 
noted the desolate character of the country through which the Central 
Pacific Railway in Nevada is laid ; and every feature of that desolation is 
intensified in degree, though identical in kind, in the nameless and formi- 
dable desert which lies west of the Grand Canon district. 

It is not altogether clear where the boundaries of the district should be 
drawn, nor what it should be made to include. So far as the western 
boundary is concerned there is no room for debate. It lies along the great 
escarpment which overlooks the rugged sierras and desert. From the very 
foot of that wall the calm repose of the strata with horizontal surfaces 
changes at once to the turmoil of flexed beds and jagged mountain crests. 
It is a portion of that trenchant boundary line which separates the topogra- 
phy of the Plateaus from that of the Grreat Basin and of the region south 
of the Great Basin so sharply that we may almost hui'l a stone from one 
region to the other. But it is not so obvious where the eastern limit should 
be drawn. The Grand Canon receives from the north the drainage of four 
distinct plateaus: the Sheavwits, Uinkaret, Kanab, and Kaibab. East of 
these lies a fifth, the Paria Plateau, which drains into the Marble Canon, 
and the Marble Canon is but the prelude to the Grand Cation. Structurally 
the Paria Plateau is quite similar to the others; it has shared in their history 
and evolution, and its topography is substantially the same in many respects, 
though not in all. It differs from the rest mainly in lying at a lower level 
and in the fact that the greater portion of its surface is covered with Trias- 
sic rocks, while the others present an almost unbi'oken expanse of Carbonif- 
erous beds. These two facts run off into consequences which are very 
interesting in themselves, but which often mar the simplicity which is pre- 
sented to the mind in the study of the Grand Canon district, as limited to 
the other four plateaus. Hence it will be convenient to play fast and loose 



Grsnd Wdsh Fduli 

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Mt Trmr-hun 





Kanab Canoa 

Wcsl IfmbatFaull 'N°e 

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Deiioman Silurian, end lirchiean. l on'misbk 


EOw Cliffs. 


-1 1, ^ r^ 


L-i^nzcTE ,j±:ij . r' 

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r 'I /tL-)>"44i'Tr'7Svtrv t, >• ij- 

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isi Jura 


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Cretaceous f-M;^^:-:;] Permian gjjEgjSj^ 

I ■ ' ■ ■•'■ I Carboniferous gl f ] i;!;j 

HonzonlalmdVerhcal Scale I i ■ ' ' ' ' ' ' ' I ' ■ ' ' I 



with the Paria subdivision, invoking its presence whenever it can be util- 
ized and dismissing it from the discussion whenever it is de trop. 

If we were content to discuss merely the existing topography, the 
northern boundary would soon be chosen at the base of the Vermilion 
Cliffs, where the splendid succession of terraces ends and the broad expanse 
of the desert begins. But the geologist, looking beyond the visible present 
into the past, seeks for history and the process of evolution. The history 
of the Grand Canon district is a remarkable one, and its few remaining 
records are in great part disclosed to us in the terraces which lead up to the 
High Plateaus. These terraces may be regarded as the appanage of either 
district— as the common ground where the threads of tlieir respective his- 
tories are interwoven. Neither district can be comprehended without some 
knowledge of the terraces, and since they have been lightly touched upon 
in the monograph of the High Plateaus, it is deemed necessary to give a 
fuller account of them here. 

The southern boundary of the district is a continuation of the western 
boundary. The grand escarpment which overlooks the sierra country to 
the west stretches southward across the Colorado, preserving identical 
features as far as it has been thoroughly studied; that is, as far as thirty or 
forty miles south of the river. We do not know as yet whether this con- 
tinuity of character and relations in the terminal escarpment persists far 
beyond that point, but, from the superficial knowledge we possess, it may 
be inferred that it does. As far as we know, and we have accounts cover- 
ing the entire southern border, the great mural termination of the Carbonif- 
erous platform which constitutes the surface of the district slowly changes 
its trend south of the river, and at length follows an east-southeasterly 
course through eastern Arizona. There, as at the Grand Wash, the surface 
of the country descends at once from the horizontal platform into a lower 
country, apparently identical in its topographic and geologic features with 
the Great Basin and with the terrible desert along the lower courses of the 
Colorado. But whether the passage is across a great fault, as it is at the 
western side of the district, still remains to be investigated. 

The four plateaus thus far named, all lie upon the northern side of the 
Colorado. They are for the most part divided by distinct lines and only 


here and there shade into each other. The westernmost is the Sheavwits 
Plateau. Its western boundary is a gigantic escarpment, overlooking the 
Grand Wash, a broad and deep valley descending from the north to the 
Colorado, and reaching the river at the mouth of the Grrand Canon. This 
"wash" carries the drainage from a considerable area lying to the north- 
westward, and also from the western wall of the plateau. No river runs 
there, but only occasional deluges of mud, whenever the storms from the 
southeast are flung against the lofty battlements and break in torrents of 
winter rain. The plateau wall had its origin in a great fault along the 
course of which the country east of it has been hoisted several thousand feet 
above the country on the west. The shear of this fault diminishes to the 
northward and appears to vanish about forty miles north of the Colorado, 
but its details remain to be studied. From the crest of the escarpment the 
plateau has a very gentle slope towards the east and northeast, for a dis- 
tance of about 30 miles. Its surface is diversified by some volcanic masses, 
and by a few large Permian outliers, capped by basaltic sheets. One con- 
siderable mass of basalt forms Mount Dellenbaugh, in the southern part of 
the plateau, and around its base spreads out a large basaltic field. The 
eastern limit of the Sheavwits is at the foot of the Hurricane Ledge, one 
of the most striking of the strong geological and topographical features of 
the region. The profile of the country, which has gradually declined from 
the western verge of the Sheavwits, suddenly leaps upward 1,600 to 1,800 
feet. Here begins the Uinkaret Plateau. 

It is the narrowest of the four, but is strongly marked in its features. 
Its southern portion has been the scene of basaltic eruptions of consider- 
able magnitude, though far inferior in extent and mass to those of other 
districts around the borders of the Plateau Province. But they are very 
interesting in consequence of their connection with other features of the 
plateau and with their history. The cones and coulees are in an excellent 
state of preservation, and some of them have a singular freshness and an 
aspect of great recency. The positions of many of the basaltic masses 
amid the stupendous scenery of the great chasm and its tributary valleys, 
are highly impressive and suggestive. On this plateau also the basalt 
has preserved the Permian beds in several localities, and the manner of 


this preservation yields, when carefully studied, much information concern- 
ing the progress of the events which have made this region what it is. The 
western boundary of the Uinkaret is the Hurricane Ledge, which preserves 
its features throughout the entire length of the plateau and continues far 
beyond it with increasing emphasis to the northward. The eastern bound- 
ary is not so persistent. It consists in part of the Toroweap fault, which 
is a strong feature in the vicinity of the Grand Canon, but diminishes 
northward and finally dies out about 18 miles from the chasm. North of 
this there is no structural and no resulting topographical feature separating 
the Uinkaret from the next subdivision. 

The Kanab Platkau is the broadest of the four, and the least pro- 
nounced in its features. It is a simple monotonous expanse, without a 
salient point to fix the attention, save one. This is a magnificent side 
canon, cutting through its central portion and opening into the heart of the 
Grrand Canon. It is as instructive as it is magnificent. 

Next in order, east of the Kanab Plateau, rises the Kaibab. It is 
typical in its form, being nearly flat upon its summit and terminating in 
lofty battlements upon its eastern and western sides. It is much higher 
than the other three plateaus and has an elevation of 7,500 to 9,300 feet. 
Its broad surface is clothed with magnificent forest, opening in grassy parks, 
which during the summer are gay with flowers of rare beauty and luxuri- 
ance. It is a paradise to the explorer, who, weary of the desert, wanders 
with delight among its giant pines and spruces, and through its verdant 
but streamless valleys. This plateau is an uplift between two great dis- 
placements, throwing in opposite directions. Towards the north these con- 
verge, and near the little village of Paria, at the base of the Vermilion 
Cliffs, the western fault merges into the eastern and the plateau ends there 
in a cusp. The western fault in its southern portion splits into three, 
which die out upon the brink of the Grand Canon or hard by it. The 
eastern displacement is a monocline of huge proportions, and about mid- 
length it divides into two parallel monoclines, which die out upon the south- 
ern side of the Colorado. The total length of the Kaibab from the Ver- 
milion Cliffs to the Grand Canon is about 90 miles, and its width at a 
maximum about 35 miles. 


East of this plateau the surface drops quickly across the great mono- 
cline, nearly 4,000 feet, upon the region draining into the Marble Canon. 
This region is divisible into two parts, a northern and a southern. The 
former, named the Paria Plateau, is a terrace of Triassic strata, scored 
with a labyrinth of canons, but otherwise featureless so far as its summit is 
concerned. It terminates abruptly towards the south by a line of cliflfs, 
describing a semicircle convex southward. They are an extension of the 
Vermilion Cliffs, and their position, projecting far in advance of the main 
line, is very instructive when viewed in connection with the grand erosion 
of this part of the Plateau Province. Their profiles drop upon a lower 
platform which extends far to the southward, hot, dreary, and barren, to 
an extreme degree. Diagonally across this lower platform lies the course of 
the Marble Canon, which in depth and grandeur is surpassed only by the 
Grand Canon. 

Still eastward, and more to the northward, is another large plateau, the 
Kaiparowits, nearly equal to the Kaibab, both in area and altitude. It 
reaches out from the southern cape of the Aquarius, extending to the Glen 
Canon of the Colorado. It is composed of lower and middle Cretaceous 
beds, and if the chasm cut by the river were filled up again the plateau 
would spread out on the southern side into an indefinite expanse of Cre- 
taceous strata, which form the great mesas of that region. Its surface is 
scored with a plexus of canons which are interesting as the relics of an 
erosion which is believed to have occurred in late Meocene or early Plio- 
cene time. 

Thus far the description has been confined to regions lying north of 
the Colorado. Upon the southern side is an expanse of plateau land 
equally extensive. Those well marked boundaries which subdivide the 
district north of the Grand Canon into individual plateaus do not appear 
upon the southern side, or else appear in such changed relations that they 
cannot serve the same purpose. The country which drains from the south 
into the canon really has no subdivisions, but is a single indivisible expanse 
to which the name of Colorado Plateau has been given. Its strata are 
very nearly horizontal, and with the exception of Cataract Canon and some 
of its tributaries it is not deeply scored. Low mesas gently rolling and 


usually clad with an ample growth of pine, pinon and cedar; broad and 
shallow valleys, yellow with sand or gray with sage, repeat themselves over 
the entire area. The altitude is greater than the plateaus north of the chasm 
except the Kaibab, being on an average not far from 7,000 to 7,500 feet. 
From such commanding points as give an overlook of this region one lonely 
butte is always visible and even conspicuous by reason of its isolation. It 
stands about twenty miles south of the Kaibab division of the Grand Canon 
and is named the Red Butte. It consists of Permian strata lying Hke a cameo 
upon the general platform of Carboniferous beds. The nearest remnant of 
similar beds is many miles away. The butte owes its preservation to a mantle 
of basalt which came to the surface near the center of its summit. It is an 
important factor in the evidence upon which rest the deductions concerning 
the great erosion of this country. 

Fifty or sixty miles south of the river rise the San Francisco Mountains. 
They are all volcanoes, and four of them are of large dimensions. The 
largest, San Francisco Mountain, nearly 13,000 feet high, might be classed 
among the largest volcanic piles of the west. Around these four masses 
are scattered many cones, and the lavas which emanated from them have 
sheeted over a large area. The foundation upon which they are planted is 
still the same platform of level Carboniferous strata which stretches calmly 
and evenly from the base of the Vermilion Cliffs for more than one hun- 
dred and fifty miles southward, patched over here and there with the lin- 
gering remnants of lower Permian strata and isolated sheets of basalt. 
South of the San Francisco Mountains the level Carboniferous platform 
extends for twenty or thirty miles, and at last ends abruptly in the Aubrey 
Cliffs, which face southward and southwestward, overlooking the sierra 
country of central Arizona. 

Recapitulating now in regular order from west to east the several pla- 
teaus which lie immediately north of the Grand Canon, we note: 1. The 
Sheavwits; 2. The Uinkaret; 3. The Kanab; 4. The Kaibab. East of 
these, and draining into the Marble Canon from the north, is the Paria 
Plateau. South of the Grand Canon is the great expanse of the Colorado 
Plateau. The limits of the district must also be extended to include the 


belt of terraces which descend from the High Plateaus on the north through 
a succession of steps to the four plateaus firs't mentioned. 

If we proceed southward from the district of the High Plateaus of 
Utah, we shall gradually descend from an altitude of more than 10,000 feet 
to one of less than 5,000 feet. The country thus traversed is terraced off 
in a succession of steps, each terrace being terminated by a sinuous line of 
cliffs or abrupt slopes. Each cliff is the limiting border of a great series 
of strata, no member of which is encountered again for an indefinite dis- 
tance to the southward. As we descend each cliff we find ourselves at its 
base upon the summit of a lower series. From the crest of each escarp- 
ment the stratum on which we stand constitutes the surface of the country 
to the northward as far as the foot of the next terrace above us, and it has a 
very gentle and hardly perceptible dip in that direction. The whole series 
in fact has a slight dip to the northward. The uppermost series is the 
Eocene, which forms the summits of the southern members of the High 
Plateaus. Only the lower members of the Eocene are there present, and 
these appear by their fossils to be certainly equivalent in age to those beds 
in the Green River Basin and upon the slopes of the Uinta Mountains to 
which Powell gave the local name of Bitter Creek beds, and which King 
called Vermilion Creek. At the southern boundaries of the Markdgunt and 
Paunsagunt plateaus the vertical edges of these strata have received the 
name of the Pink Cliffs. They are exceedingly picturesque and beautiful 
on account of their marvellous sculpture and delicate pale red color. 
Beneath them and extending farther southward is the great Cretaceous 
series, which in these parts does not give rise to cliffs, though farther east 
in the Upper Paria amphitheater it presents palisades of grand proportions 
and magnificent aspect. Here its strata are beveled off" on their edges in 
such manner, that while their dip is gently towards the north the planes of 
denudation incline strongly towards the south, and the edges form long 
slopes of disintegrated shale with low crumbling ledges of sandstone. From 
beneath the Cretaceous project southward two divisions of the Jurassic, the 
upper consisting of red shaly beds which disintegrate easily and do not 
ordinarily form cliffs ; and the lower, a massive sandstone, a thousand feet 
thick and of commanding aspect. It is very light gray — almost white — 

r. s. cr-pi.ocicAL sl'Kie]-. 

CRAM) I A.iOX n/sri!ICT. It.. III. 

Marliaqilllt Plal.Mll 



Vermilioa Cliffs. 



Graiiil Canon.lionaliDnision. 



Dt'iuniiin.Silurinn^/Vcliip;!!! imi.'(iiirui'iiiolj|p Ir riirlioiiifi'ruus. 

Ai Ink'n a] uf lli'ii'ty 






_ ,!i 


:x:;;i:^TT rpEz^fTTTT-qTr'" i^ ■-t'^-^^t^^^t^^—^^^ t^-r^ i ^■T^TTM^ 


1 . Cretaceous 

• Jura 

r I . Trias \ r \ \ ' \ . Permian 

Carhoniferoufi Ft#V^^^ Volcanic 

Horizontal and Vertical Seal: 




and cross-bedded from top to bottom in a most intricate and profuse man- 
ner. The weathering has given to these rocks a filagree tracery as beauti- 
ful as frostwork. The Jurassic sandstone tei-minates in grand cliffs of sin- 
gular boldness and great simplicity of form. Next below reaches out the 
Triassic series, ending in that wonderful escarpment which Powell has 
described under the name of Vermilion Cliffs. The terminal wall is from 
1,000 to 2,000 feet in height, and presents a great number of layers of 
sandstone and sandy shales with gypsiferous partings. These are very 
evenly stratified, and the cliffs which are carved out of them present many 
ledges and slopes which have a very ornate and architectural effect. The 
color is throughout a bright rich red, which at sunset takes a strong ver- 
milion hue and fully justifies the name given by Powell. Altogether it is 
the greatest cliff-forming series of the Plateau country. The Vermilion 
Cliffs stretch from the southwestern border of the Mark^gunt in a great 
curve as far as the Paria Valley, a distance of more than a hundred miles in 
which sinuosities are not computed. 

There is yet another terrace. Beneath the Trias the Permian is seen, 
reaching still further southM'ard. It is everywhere capped with a light 
brown, coarse sandstone, here and there passing into a conglomerate, to 
which Powell gave the local name of Shinarump conglomerate. Mr. Wal- 
cott, for reasons which will hereafter be presented, has placed this particu- 
lar stratum provisionally at the base of the Trias, and while I admit the 
validity of his reasons, it makes some awkward difficulties of discussion ; 
for in all its topographical relations it is associated with the Permian. The 
true Permian lies beneath it, presenting in its upper members those densely 
colored shales — chocolate, dark red, brown, purple, slate, and lavender, in 
numberless tones and shades. Lower down, dull Indian red, and still lower, 
white or pale grey bands appear. Wonderful indeed is the coloring of the 
Permian, yet not more so than the sculpture. The series forms cliffs of 
rather small or moderate altitude, ranging from 400 to 1,000 feet in height, 
and sometimes interrupted through notable intervals where they are beveled 
off. Having passed the Permian, we find ourselves upon the immense plat- 
form of the Carboniferous, which covers the entire expanse of country as 

2 GO 


far as the Aubrey Cliffs, 150 miles to the southward, and has a width of 
100 miles. 

The region occupied by the terraces has a width from north to south of 
about 30 to 40 miles, and a length fi-om west to east of nearly 100 miles. 
The trend of the cliffs is in detail very irregular, making long detours and 
throwing out great southward projections. Still there is much of system 
in their arrangement, and a rude kind of parallelism in the trends of their 
escarpments. In a general way their course is from west to east, reaching 
from the Hurricane Ledge to the valley of the Paria. It is desirable to follow 
the course of these cliffs beyond the Paria and note the manner in which 
they terminate the strata along the eastern side of the district. 

At the Paria River the limiting edges of the Mesozoic strata suddenly 
change their trend and strike off to the southward, or rather in courses a 
little east of south. For more than 140 miles they form the eastern bound- 
ary of the Grand and Marble Canon area. Their topographical features, 
however, are very different from those presented upon the southern flanks 
of the High Plateaus. Generally each terrain (Trias, Jura, Cretaceous, &c.,) 
ends in cliffs facing the west and overlooking the great Carboniferous 
platform through which the Grand and Marble Canons are cut; but the 
regvilar terraces, rising step above step, are wanting. The arrangement can 
be understood only by consulting the geological map and sections. It is 
greatly complicated by a large monoclinal flexure (Echo Cliff flexure) which 
throws down the country east of the Marble Canon and Paria Plateau, and 
upon the slope of this monocline appear the edges of the Trias and Jura, 
and a little beyond it the Cretaceous. We are here concerned, however, 
only with certain facts which are common to the regions north of the dis- 
trict and to those east of it. On both of these sides the edges of the 
Mesozoic strata, ending in long lines of cliff above cliff, face towards the 
great Carboniferous platform. 

And while this conception is fresh, let us turn to the western and 
southern sides of the district, where the Carboniferous platform itself ends 
in giant cliffs which overlook the sierra country beyond. In that sierra 
region the rocks are all of older age — Archaean, Silurian, and Devonian (I), 
and the elevations, except the summits of the ridges, are much less than 


those of the plateaus. We may now reahze that the district drained by 
the Grrand and Marble Canons consists of a vast platform of Carboniferous 
strata nearly horizontal; bounded on the north and east by the edges of 
abruptly terminated Mesozoic beds ascending cliff above cliff; and bounded 
upon the west and south by its own terminal escarpment descending to the 
Silurian and Archaean rocks of the sierra region. 

In a preliminary treatment of the more general features of the district 
it is necessary to advert to the displacements which serve to define its dif- 
ferent portions. The most striking structural characteristic is the approxi- 
mate horizontality of the strata. But although the dips, except at the mono- 
clines are very small, they are important. They rarely exceed 2° and 
generally are less than 1°. But as they are for the most part in one direc- 
tion — towards the north — and as the distances over which they prevail are 
very great, the aggregate effect is correspondingly great. The summit of 
the Carboniferous at the base of the Permian near Kanab, five or six miles 
south of the Vermilion Cliffs, is about 4,400 feet above the sea. Forty 
miles further south, near the brink of the Grand Canon, the same geologi- 
cal horizon lies at an altitude of 6,400 feet, and at the bases of the San 
Francisco Mountains its altitude is 7,800 feet above the sea. In the course 
of the discussion this widely diffused dip will appear as a factor of the 
utmost importance. 

Allusion has already been made to the abrupt lines of displacement 
which traverse the region in directions which never deviate far from north 
and south. But some further discussion is advisable. 

The great faults and flexures which traverse lengthwise the district 
of the High Plateaus and the Grand Canon district form a very striking 
system. They are of great magnitude and are remarkable for their enor- 
mous length. In the High Plateaus they are comparatively near together, 
but from north to south they spread out very slightly and the area over 
which they extend constantly widens southwardly. In the Grand Canon 
district they have their widest expansion and are separated by the widest 
intervals, occupying there a belt of country having a width of more than 
a hundred miles from west to east. 

The westernmost of these is the Grand JVash fault. It is a feature of 


the highest importance, since it is the boundary, not only of the Grrand 
Canon district, but of the Plateau Province itself. It drops the countiy on 
the west about 6,000 feet at a maximum. The greatest observed displace- 
ment is at the lower end of the Grand Canon, where the lower Trias appears 
abutting against the lower Carboniferous. South of the river it continues 
for an unknown distance, still terminating the platform of the district. North 
of the river it diminishes in the amount of displacement, and near Saint 
George, on the Utah boundary-line, it appears to vanish. But the down- 
throw has in the mean time been shifted eastward to the Hurricane fault. 
As the Grand Wash fault diminishes northwardly so does the Hurricane 
fault increase. 

The latter crosses the Colorado upon the western base of the Uinkaret 
Plateau, and is known to extend a considerable distance south of the river; 
but the more distant extensions of it in that direction have not yet been 
studied. At the Grand Canon its displacement is about 1,800 feet, and 
this amount is preserved with approximate uniformity for thirty miles north 
of the river. It then increases until, at the point where the Virgen River 
crosses it, the displacement is more than 6,000 feet, bringing the Jurassic 
below the level of the upper Carboniferous. Here by the evanishment 
of the Grand Wash fault it has become the boundary of the Plateau country. 
It continues northward in great force along the base of the Markdgunt 
mass and disappears seventy or eighty miles north of the Virgen. 

The next fault is the Toroweap. It is of less magnitude and length 
than the others, though still considerable. It crosses the Colorado at the 
foot of the Toroweap Valley, which lies at the eastern base of the Uinkaret 
Plateau. Here its displacement is about 700 feet. It is seen to extend 
south of the river for a considerable distance, rather increasing in the 
amount of shear, or at least holding its own as far as it has been traced. 
But its mode of resolution remains to be investigated. North of the river 
it gradually dwindles and vanishes about 18 or 20 miles north of the Canon. 

The southern extension of the great Sevier fault also penetrates the 
district, but its effect is seen only in the terraces. It is a strong feature at 
the southernmost promontory of the Vermilion Cliffs at Pipe Spring, but 
its further extension towards the south cannot be great. The soil and allu- 


vium at the base of the Vermilion Cliffs hide everytliing beneath for several 
miles, and beyond that no trace of the fault is visible. 

The Western and ^Eastern Kaihah displacements will be treated so fully 
hereafter that no extended mention of them is deemed necessary here. 
They include between them the Kaibab platform. At the northern extrem- 
ity of that plateau the western fault merges into the eastern and loses its 
individuality at once. The eastern displacement is a great mouoclinal flex- 
ure. South of the river, at the head of the Grand Canon, it appears as a 
gentle inclination, becoming steeper and more abrupt upon the northern 
side. AU along the eastern front of the Kaibab it is a sharp sudden flexure, 
turning down the Carboniferous beds from 2,500 to 4,000 feet. It reaches 
far to the northward and enters the district of the High Plateaus. 

The easternmost displacement is the Echo Cliff flexure. It crosses the 
Colorado at the head of the Marble Canon and is known to extend at least 
100 miles south of the river. Upon the northern side it reaches up to the 
little village of Paria at the foot of the Vermilion Cliffs, where it appears 
to merge with the Eastern Kaibab monocline. 

The four faults west of the Kaibab, viz, the Grand Wash, Hurricane, 
Toroweap, and West Kaibab, drop the country to the west of them. The 
two monoclines east of the same plateau, viz, East Kaibab and Echo Cliff 
flexures, drop the country to the east of them. We may note also a gen- 
eral feature in the trend of these faults. With the exception of the Echo 
Cliff monocline their courses, though generally north and south, are curvi- 
linear and in a peculiar way. At the base of the Vermilion Cliffs the courses 
are a little west of south, and thence gradually bend to due south and finally 
to the south-southeast. All of them appear to have this feature in common, 
and the result is that they include between them crescent-shaped or scime- 
tar-shaped blocks of country. Viewed in another way we may observe 
that they show a tendency to maintain a parallelism with the western and 
southwestern boundary of the district; which boundary, as will subse- 
quently appear, is the approximate locus of the old Mesozoic shore-line, 
from which the sediments of that age were derived. No cross faults — at 
least upon the northern side of the chasm — have been detected, and it may 


be affirmed that none of any importance exist. They would not have 
escaped observation if they were present. 

In the course of the present work much use will be made of the drain- 
age system in the task of unraveling the geological history of the region, 
and a brief sketch of that system is deemed necessary here. The trunk of 
the drainage tree is the Colorado. This marvelous river, after traversing 
the heart of the Plateau Province for hundreds of miles, and nearly all the 
way in profound chasms, at length reaches the escarpment of the Echo 
Cliffs. Here it emerges for a moment from between opposing walls of im- 
pressive magnitude into a comparatively open space. But it is for a moment 
only. At once it begins to sink in the Carboniferous platform another 
chasm, termed the Marble Canon. The course of the river as it leaves 
the Echo Cliffs is southwest, and gradually it bends to due south. As its 
bed descends the strata slowly rise, and at the distance of 65 miles (as the 
river runs) from the Echo Chffs the abyss attains a depth of 3,600 feet. At 
this point the Little Colorado, a tributary coming from the south, enters it 
through a canon of equal depth. Three or four miles from the confluence 
the main stream, hitherto flowing southward, suddenly changes its course 
to the west and enters the upward slope of the East Kaibab monocline. 
Rapidly the chasm deepens to about 6,000 feet — the increase of depth being 
mainly due to the fact that it penetrates a much higher country while the 
descent of the river meantime is immaterially small. Here begins the Grand 
Canon. On the north is the Kaibab Plateau, and on the south is the con- 
tinuation of the same platform as the Kaibab, at an altitude which is only 
three or four hundred feet lower — a difference which is very small in com- 
parison with the depth of the chasm. Through this lofty plateau — 8,000 
to 9,000 feet high — the chasm extends for a distance of about 60 miles, 
gradually changing its direction to the northwest. This portion of the 
canon will, for convenience of discussion, be called the Kaibab division of 
the Grrand Canon. It is the sublimest portion of the chasm, being nearly a 
thousand feet deeper than any other. But the greater depth is by no means 
the chief reason for this superior grandeur, since the relative difference 
between 5,000 and 6,000 feet is not so very great. But the Kaibab division 
is far more diversified and complex than the others and is adorned with a 


multitude of magnificent features which are either wanting or much less 
strongly represented elsewhere. If now we consider the Marble Canon with 
its southerly course, and the Kaibab division of the Grand Canon with its 
west and northwesterly course, we shall perceive that these two portions of 
the river form a great elbow or detour to the south. This detour is named 
the Eastern Bend. 

After passing the Kaibab division the chasm suddenly changes its 
course again from northwest to a direction a little south of due west, ex- 
tending in an almost straight line through the Kanab Plateau, a distance of 
forty miles. Here the chasm is about 5,000 feet in depth, varying but little 
from that amount. It is also much simpler in form than in the Kaibab 
division. Along this portion two great side canons, as deep as the main 
chasm itself, open into it ; one from the north, called Kanab Canon, the 
other from the south, called Cataract Canon. The Kanab diAdsion ends at 
the foot of Toroweap Valley, a broad avenue about 20 miles long and two 
to three miles wide coming from the north. This valley is excavated only 
to about two-fifths of the depth of the chasm, and opens upon a broad plat- 
form in the main canon. The fault which runs through this valley drops 
the country to the west, and the height of the walls where the river crosses 
the fault at once diminishes from about 5,200 feet to 4,500 feet. But the 
lost altitude is soon regained. Here begins the Uinkaret division, which 
is about 15 miles in length. It is very similar in character to the Kanab 
division. At its tei'mination the river again changes its course to the south- 
west and enters the Sheavwits Plateau. As the river crosses the Hurricane 
fault the walls again drop and again the lost altitude is soon recovered. The 
general character of the canon in the Sheavwits division is similar to that 
of the Kanab. In this plateau the river makes a second great detour to the 
south, beginning with a southwesterly course, and after running about 40 
miles in this direction suddenly deflecting to the northwest. This detour is 
named the Western Bend. The length of the Sheavwits division is about 
80 miles. At length the river emerges from this platform through a gate- 
way 5,000 feet in depth, and as it crosses the Grand Wash fault the walls 
at once drop to mere banks a few hundred feet in height with easy slopes, 
and the Grand Caiion ends. 



We may reckon the length of the entire chasm in several ways with 
varying results. If the line of measurement be laid along the middle of 
the water surface of the river, following all its meanderings in detail, the 
length would be about 220 miles. If it be laid along the median line be- 
tween the crests of the summits of the walls with two-mile chords it would 
be about 195 miles. The distance between the confluence of the Little 
Colorado and the foot of the canon at the Grand Wash in a single straight 
line is only 125 miles. The length of the Marble Canon can be measured 
in only one way, and may be stated at 66 miles. 

There are three principal streams which drain the terraces. The west- 
ernmost is the Virgen River, which heads in many filaments along the south- 
ern escarpment of the Markdgunt. Reaching the Triassic terrace by two 
principal forks, it then deflects to the westward, and crossing the Hurricane 
Ledge leaves the Plateau Province altogether. Flowing thence southwest- 
ward, it threads its way through that dismal region which lies west of the 
Grand Wash and south of the Great Basin. 

The second and median drainage channel of importance is Kanab 
Creek. It heads at the divide separating the waters which run to the Colo- 
rado from those which flow northward through the Sevier River into the 
Great Basin. Its springs are near that portion of this divide which lies be- 
tween the Pauns4gunt and Markdgunt plateaus. It flows due south, and 
enters the Grand Canon by a mighty gorge opening midway of the Kanab 
division of the chasm. 

The third principal drainage channel is the Paria River. It heads in 
the grand Paria amphitheater, receiving the wash of the eastern wall of the 
Paunsdsrunt and the western front of Table Cliff. It flows about south- 
southeast, passing between the Paria Plateau and the Kaiparowits, and 
enters the Colorado at the head of the Marble Canon. 

These three rivers are the only living streams which enter the Colorado 
on the north side between the head of the Marble Canon and the mouth of 
the Virgen — a distance of more than 300 miles. Only one of them, Kanab 
Creek, enters the Grand Canon, and even Kanab Creek is dry along a por- 
tion of its bed during the greater part of the year, its waters sinking out of 
eight but rising again near their confluence. We cannot fail to be struck 


with the absence of tributaries— this one alone excepted. The cause is 
obviously the arid climate. But there are also no dry canons coming from 
the north, and though dry canons are abundant in the terraces there is a 
conspicuous absence of them in the vicinity of the Grand Canon. The 
reason for it will appear in the sequel, and it is only remarked here in a 
general waj that the arid climate has prevailed during a very long period, 
and although other tributaries once existed, they have for the most part 
been obliterated or rendered obscure. They ceased to run with the advent 
of this arid climate, which came on when the present Grand Canon had no 
existence, or had just begun to develop. 



View from the southern brink of the MarkSgunt. — The Eocene. — The Pink Cliffs. — Correlation of the 
Pink Cliffs beds with the lower Eocene of the Green Eiver basin and the Uintas. — Unconformity 
with the Cretaceous. — Brackish water deposits at the base. — Only the lower Eocene deposited here. 
Volcanic sands. — Remnants of the Eocene in the littoral belt to the southwest of the Markdgunt. 
Sources of their materials in the Mesozoic laud of the Great Basin. — The old shore line. — Outlier 
on the Kaiparowits. — Absence of the Eocene from the heart of the Plateau Province. — The Cre- 
taceous. — Its extent and thickness.— Its topographical features. — Its occurrence in the littoral 
belt. — Its exposures in the Kaiparowits. — Its extension into the great mesas of Arizona. — Former 
extension westward of the great Cretaceous ocean and connection with the area of the Plateau 
Province.— The Jurassic. — The subdivisions of the formation. — The great cross-bedded sandstone. 
— Its characteristic cliffs. — Its forms on the Colob. —Absence of this sandstone from the eastern 
part of the province and its blending with the Trias. — The Jurassic in the littoral belt, in the ter- 
races in the west flank of the Kaiparowits and Paria and in the Echo Cliffs. — The Trias. — Its 
obscure separation from the Jura. — Lithological characters of its beds. — Its appearance in the 
terraces. — The Vermilion Cliffs. — Its extension in the Paria Plateau and in the Echo Cliffs.— 
Outlying remnants in the Sheavwits Plateau and Grand Wash. — Its exposures in the littoral 
^elt. — The Permian.^Its separation from the Trias. — Its numerous remnants over the Grand 
CaBon platform. — Facts of general application to the terraces. — The prevailing dip of the whole 
Mesozoic series towards the north. — Sudden increments of dip at the bases of the cliffs. — Attenu- 
ation of the strata towards the east. — Subordinate watersheds of the terraces. — Drainage basin of 
the Virgen. — Basin of Kanab Creek. — Canons of Upper Kanab. — The Paria. — Courses of the 
drainage with reference to structural slopes. 

In describing tliose subdivisions of the Grand Canon district which 
are of greatest moment to the present discussion, I shall begin with the ter- 
races terminating the High Plateaus. 

Before the observer who stands upon a southern salient of the Mar- 
kiigunt Plateau is spread out a magnificent spectacle. The altitude is nearly 
11,000 feet above the sea, and the radius of vision reaches to the south- 
ward nearly a hundred miles. In the extreme distance is the calm of the 
desert platform, its surface mottled with indistinct lights and shades, too 
remote to disclose their meaning. Against the southeastern horizon is 
projected the pale blue escarpment of the Kaibab, which stretches 
away to the south until the curvature of the earth carries it out of sight. To 



the southward rise in merest outline, and devoid of all visible details, the 
dark mass of Mount Trumbull and the waving cones of the Uinkaret. Be- 
tween these and the Kaibab the limit of the prospect is a horizontal line, like 
that which separates the sea from the sky. To the southwestward are the 
sierras of the Basin Province, and quite near to us there rises a short but 
quite lofty range of veritable mountains, contrasting powerfully with the flat 
crestlines and mesas which lie to the south and east. It is the Pine Valley 
range, and though its absolute altitude above the sea is smaller than many 
other ranges of the West, yet since their bases are comparatively low (3,000 
to 3,500 feet above the sea), the mountain masses themselves are very high. 


The foreground of the picture is full of strength and animation. At 
our feet is the brink of a precipice where the profiles descend 800 feet upon 
rugged slopes which shelve away downwards and mingle with the inequali- 
ties of a broad platform deeply indented with picturesque valleys. The 
clifiP on which we stand is of marvelous sculpture and color. Tlie rains 
have carved out of it rows of square obeHsks and pilasters of uniform pat- 
tern and dimensions, which decorate the front for many miles, giving the 
efiect of a gigantic colonnade from which the entablature has been removed 
or has fallen in ruins. The Plateau Country abounds in these close resem- 
blances of natural carving to human architecture, and nowhere are these 
more conspicuous or more perfect than in the scarps which terminate the 
summits of the MarkAgunt and Paunsdgunt Plateaus. Their color varies with 
the hght and atmosphere. It is a pale red under ordinary lights, but as the 
sun sinks towards the horizon it deepens into a rich rose-color, which is 
seen in no other rocks and is beautiful beyond description. These cliffs are 
of lower Eocene age, consisting of lake marls very uniformly bedded. At 
the base of this series the beds are coarser, and contain well-marked, brack- 
ish-water fossils; but as we ascend to the higher beds we find the great 
mass of the Eocene to consist of fresh- water deposits. 

These beds are identical in age with the lower divisions of the Eocene, 


which are seen in great vohime both north and south of the Uinta Mount- 
ains, in the basins of the Green River, of Bitter Creek, and of the White 
and Uinta rivers. Their geological relations and associations, too, are 
quite the same, for the same lake bottom received the deposits of the south- 
ern Uinta slopes and those of the Markdgunt. Those of the Green River 
basin north of the Ulntas appear to have accumulated in a separate lake 
basin communicating with the one which submerged the southern Plateau 
Province. The interval separating the Markdgunt from the Uinta region 
is two hundred and fifty miles and more, but the lower Eocene is continu- 
ous between them. It occupies a marginal belt, sometimes narrow, but more 
frequently wide, which was once the locus of the northwestern portion and 
shore line of the great lake. The summits of the High Plateaus, wherever 
the volcanic masses are absent, disclose this formation, and its presence is 
decisively inferred beneath the lavas and their debris. A common bond be- 
tween the two regions is also indicated by the phj^sical conditions attend- 
ing the deposition of these strata. The lower Eocene rests upon the under- 
lying formations, conformably in some places, unconformably in others. 
Where conformity prevails, both the upper and lower series were at the 
time of deposition sensibly horizontal. But in many places the Cretaceous, 
prior to the deposition of the Eocene, was greatly disturbed and greatly 
eroded. And in general the base of the Eocene marks an epoch in the 
geological history of the country, in which an old order of events was 
closing and a new order was making its advent. This revolution was the 
transition of the region from the oceanic condition to that of an estuary 
and lake, and subsequently to that of dry land. The lower Eocene beds 
are brackish-water deposits in the basal members, while higher up they 
become fresh-water. The basal members are coarse and even conglomer- 
atic in their texture, while the middle and higher ones are fine and marly. 
Thus is indicated the complete severance of the lake from the access of 
oceanic waters. Both in the Uinta district and throughout the High Pla- 
teaus these events are recorded in the same order and their meaning is the 
same in both. 

The beds now found in the southern extremities of the High Plateaus 
represent less than half of the duration of Eocene time. No middle and 



Topograpl^v" by -IK Rensliaive 

Julius BimScriiO, 


CE DL'TTON, Geologist in Charge. 




Scalc= i.fiorr,vTor, 


no upper Eocene strata are found there. But as we ^o northward towards 
the Uintas we find later and later formations successively appearing until 
upon the flanks of the Uintas the whole Eocene appears in enormous 
volume, exceeding perhaps 5,000 feet. Could these middle and upper 
Eocene masses once have existed vipon the southern portion of the High 
Plateaus and been swept away by erosion! There is strong evidence to 
the contrary. 

Within a few miles of our standpoint on the Markdgunt are found 
small patches of water-laid strata consisting of volcanic sand overlying the 
Eocene marls, and upon these are piled massive sheets of andesite and 
trachyte. No apparent unconformity separates the stratified tufa from the 
underlying- marls, and to all appearances the deposition was continuous. 
The inference is plain that the lacustrine age closed here amid volcanic 
convulsions, and that the epoch of its closure was at the end of the lower 
Eocene. Similar evidences are found as we examine each successive expo- 
sure to the northward, in which the summit of the lacustrine series is 
revealed; but with the following modification. The beds of volcanic sand 
grow thicker and more numerous, indicating a longer continuance of the 
lake the further north we trace it. And when we pass northwardly beyond 
the limits of the volcanic masses of the High Plateaus, we find common 
sedimentary beds bearing fresh-water fossils of middle Eocene age. Still 
further northward we find strata of later and later age, successively making 
their appearance until at last, within sight of the Uintas, the whole of the 
local Eocene is present. 

These facts point to the conclusion that when the desiccation of the 
great lake took place, the portion which first emerged was the southwestern, 
or the Grand Canon district. Perhaps when its southern boundary in 
eastern Arizona and western New Mexico is examined in detail we shall be 
led to infer an equal antiquity for the emergence of those regions, and in 
truth, from the little that is known of them, a suspicion is raised that it will 
so prove. In any event, it appears that the desiccation of the southern por- 
tion of the lake is older than that of the northern, and that its shore-line 
gradually receded northward during middle and upper Eocene time, leav- 
ing dry land behind it, and at the close of the Eocene the last remnant of 


the lake disappeared near the southern base of the Uinta Mountains. Nor 
does this inference rest wholly upon the facts thus recited. Wherever the 
physical geology and evolution of the Grand Canon district touches the 
question of time, the same conclusion presents itself, sometimes dimly, some- 
times forcibly. Doubtless it will appear repeatedly and from many points 
of view as the discussion of the region progresses. 

Inasmuch as the most prominent theme of this work will be the recital 
of the evidences which this district presents of an enormous denudation 
during Tertiary time, we may with advantage proceed to the examination of 
the other remnants of Eocene strata which that denudation has spared; for 
by the study and comparison of residual masses some valuable indications 
may be found showing the original condition and distribution of the primi- 
tive masses. The principal body of the Eocene strata terminates south- 
wardly at the brinks of the High Plateaus. But there are other bodies of 
the same formation occurring in a fragmentary way far to the southwest. 
At the northeastern base of the Pine Valley Mountains some large rem- 
nants are seen, and upon the opposite side of the same range still others 
are found. A general idea of their distribution may be gained by advert- 
ing to the eai'ly Tertiary geography of the region lying west and south- 
west of the Markdgunt. The Eocene strata in these parts derived their 
materials from land which at that age occupied the site of the present Great 
Basin. The shore-line of that land extended from the southern end of the 
Wasatch southwardly, gradually swinging its trend more and more towards 
the west, until it had a direction very nearly southwest. It crossed the 
Nevada-Utah boundary very obliquely, and reached far to the southwest 
in the former State. In the littoral belt in the neighborhood of this ancient 
shore are many remnants of lower Eocene strata. They recur at intervals 
as we move southwestwardly from the Markdgunt through a distance 
of more than 70 miles, and possibly much further. West of the Marka- 
gunt and of the Grand Canon district the Eoceiie lake appears to have 
extended as a great gulf or bight, covering much of the southern portion 
of Nevada, and reaching well towards southern California. But as our 
knowledge of the geology of those regions is very imperfect at present, it 
is impossible to assert anything confidently concerning the course of the 











shore-line in southwestern Nevada. All that we can say at present is that 
a belt of remnants of littoral Tertiary strata is known to extend for more 
than 70 miles southwest from the flank of the Markdgunt. Whether 
any more of them lie beyond this limit must be determined by future investi- 

Turning now to the southern escarpments of the High Plateaus, not a 
solitary remnant of Tertiary strata lies south of the brinks of the Markd- 
gunt and Paunsdgunt. But upon the Kaiparowits, 25 miles east of the 
Pauns^gunt, is a solitary outlier of Tertiary strata upon the summit of the 
Kaiparowits Peak. From this point southeastward not a vestige of the Ter- 
tiary is known until we reach New Mexico. This wide interval discloses 
strata of all ages from the base of the Trias to the summit of the Cretace- 
ous, and beds of the latter age form a very large proportion' of the surface 
of the country. But if the Tertiary once extended over the whole region 
every trace of it has probably disappeared. It is indeed a general fact that 
the Tertiary remnants of the Plateau Country are found in abundance 
around the margin of the lake in which they were deposited, but never in 
the central portions of its expanse. 


The platform immediately below the Pink Cliffs is picturesque rather 
than grand. Rough rolling ridges of yellow sandstone, long sloping hill- 
sides, and rocky promontories clad with large pines and spruces, surround 
the valleys. These rocks are of Cretaceous age. Upon the southward 
slopes of the Paunsdgunt and Markdgunt Plateaus, they nowhere present 
the serried fronts of cliffs, but break down into long irregular slopes much 
like those of common hill countries. In those superficial and merely scenic 
aspects which make the terraces so impressive, the Cretaceous is for the 
most part notably deficient; but in those deeper studies, which are of most 
significance to the geologist, it holds an importance not inferior to that of 
any other formation. It is never wanting at its proper place in the terraces, 
but always displays a vast series of sandstones and clay shales, varying 


from 4,000 to 5,000 feet in thickness. Around the western and southern 
flanks of the Markdgunt, and just beneath the summit phitform, they oc- 
cupy a belt varying in width from 4 to 10 miles. Around the Paunsagunt 
their relative positions and relations are quite the same. But as we pass 
eastward into the great amphitheater of the Paria Valley they at length 
take the form of cliffs of very striking aspect. The numerous ledges rise 
in quick succession, step by step, from the valley bottom to the base of the 
Eocene mass of Table Cliff, which stands as a glorious Parthenon upon 
the summit of a vast Acropolis. The many superposed cliffs which consti- 
tute this stairway are severally of moderate dimensions, but their cumula- 
tive altitude is more than 4,000 feet, tier above tier, and their composite or 
multiple effect, intensified by the exceeding sharpness of the infinite details 
of repetitive sculpture, places it among the grander spectacles of the Pla- 
teau cou.ntry. In their coloring, these cliffs are quite peculiar. There are 
no red, purple, orange, and chocolate hues, such as prevail in other forma- 
tions, but pale yellow and light brown in the sandstones and blue-gray to 
dark iron-gray in the heavy belts of shale. The tones are very light and 
brilliant on the whole, the darker belts playing the part of a foil which aug- 
ments rather than diminishes their luminosity. 

In the region which lies west of the Marktlgunt the Cretaceous occurs in 
much the same manner as the Eocene. Like the latter formation, it is here 
a marginal belt skirting the Mesozoic mainland of the Great Basin. Only 
remnants of it have been spared. The country where they occur is a part 
of the sierra region, and it has been greatly shattered and distorted by 
movements of the same character as those which hoisted the Basin ranges 
and which warped and tilted their strata. Erosion, acting upon these 
masses, wasted them enormously, and wherever we find the Cretaceous we 
perceive that its preservation has been due to a mere accident of the posi- 
tion in which these displacements have left it or to the protection of some 
great volcanic overflow. 

In the terraces of the High Plateaus the entire Cretaceous system is 
preserved as a step in the stairway; but it has no outliers. It projects 
southward from beneath the Eocene Cliffs and is in its turn cut off. Beyond 

;■. 5. GEOLOGICAL sfRrrv 




the proper margin of its own terrace no vestige of it appears to the south- 

Proceeding eastward to the Kaiparowits the Cretaceous presents itself 
in a manner which is highly significant, and which merits careful examina- 
tion. We have already remarked that the Eocene is wholly absent from 
the interior spaces of the Plateau Country. From the places of its exposure 
in the southern parts of the High Plateaus to the places of its exposure in 
Colorado and New Mexico is an interval of 180 to 240 miles. But while the 
Eocene is wholly wanting in this great intervening space the Cretaceous 
occurs in very large masses, forming probably at least half of the surface of 
the country. The Kaiparowits Plateau is a broad belt of Cretaceous strata 
reaching out southwardly from the Aquarius Plateau and from Table Cliff 
(an outlier of the Aquarius). At a distance of 60 miles from the latter the 
Colorado River cuts right across the Kaiparowits, forming the great gorge 
of the Grlen Canon. South of the river the platform resumes its character, 
and the Cretaceous spreads out into great mesas deeply dissected by canons 
tributary to the San Juan. These Cretaceous mesas cover almost the entire 
northeastern quarter of Arizona and reach indefinitely eastward. In truth 
there is little doubt that these strata are the continuation of the Cretace- 
ous formations which overspread the greater part of New Mexico, Texas, 
Colorado, the Indian Territory, and the Great Plains at large between the 
Rocky Mountains and the Missouri River. It is already a foregone con- 
clusion that the Cretaceous sea, which extended from the Gulf of Mexico 
northward towards the Arctic Ocean, also extended west, covering the Pla- 
teau Province, and reached far into Arizona and even into southern Nevada. 
Perhaps it joined the Pacific through a broad strait running between the 
Great Basin area on the north and the sierra countiy of western Arizona 
on the south. But this we cannot as yet prove, though many facts seem to 
indicate it. At all events if the Atlantic did not join the Pacific here the 
separation of the two oceans was onlj^ by a narrow belt of land. 

The western wall of the Kaiparowits here marks the limit of the Cre- 
taceous formation. Formerly, indeed, its strata extended much further 
westward, but they have been swept away from the interior spaces of the 
3 » 


Grand Canon district. The Kaiparowits wall, broken for a moment at the 
mouth of the Glen Canon, resumes its course south of the river on the sum- 
mit of the Echo Cliffs and reaches 80 miles beyond the Colorado. Its 
meaning here is the same as that of the terminal edges of the Cretaceous 
in the terraces of the High Plateaus. In the terraces we find the edges of 
the Mesozoic system forming the northern margin of the Grand Canon dis- 
trict. In the Kaiparowits front and in its continuation along the line of the 
Echo Cliffs we find the edges of the same strata forming the eastern margin 
of the district. Thus, upon two sides of the Grand Canon platform, the 
Cretaceous, preserved in full force, presents the abruptly terminated edges 
of its strata towards that platform and overlooks it. The littoral belt of 
southwestern Utah and southern Nevada may be looked upon as part of a 
third side of the district, disclosing a fringe of Cretaceous remnants. Alto- 
gether, the eroded edges of this formation are found upon about two-thirds 
of the periphery of the Grand Canon district. Of the remaining third of 
the circuit our knowledge is very imperfect, for it has not been geologically 
explored with thoroughness. 


To the student whose mind is engaged chiefly with problems of strati- 
graphy the Jura- Trias system of the plateaus, (and the Permian ma}' be 
considered as indissolubly linked with it), is a most alluring field of study. 
True, it yields him more questions than answers, but the questions are full 
of suggestion, opening many avenues of thought which he is fain to follow. 
All things considered, this series is probably the most conspicuous and typi- 
cal one in the Plateau Country, and it there displays a development grander 
and more extensive than in any other region of the world. 

The division of the Jurassic from the Trias is often difficult to make. 
The primary reason is the want of fossils. The uppermost members of the 
Jurassic contain an abundant marine fauna ; but thence downwards we find 
no organic forms sufficient for purposes of discrimination until we reach the 
lower members of the Permian. A few plants, an abundance of silicified 
wood, a few unrecognizable dermal scutes of fishes, are all that the great 







succession of intervening beds has thus far yielded. The provisional sep- 
aration now adopted is reached by tracing the series continuously into dis- 
tant regions where the discrimination can be made, and correlating the sec- 
tions of the two localities. In very few, if any, other portions of the world 
would this be possible; but here the formations are so persistent over enor- 
mous areas, and they retain throughout so unmistakably their lithological 
characters, both en masse and in their component members, that the problem 
is relieved of most of its doubts and difficulties. The Jurassic, as thus sep- 
arated, consists of a series of bright red, fossiliferous shales resting upon a 
very massive bed of white sandstone nearly a thousand feet thick. The 
shales, which are from 300 to 500 feet in thickness, consist of beds which 
vary much in qiaality, some being calcareous, some gypsiferous, and others 
thinly bedded sandstones. Their interest is chiefly palaeontological, since 
the calcareous layers abound in typical Jurassic fossils, which fix their 
horizons with certainty. But the portion to which the attention is most 
powerfully attracted is the great mass of white sandstone ; and a wonderful 
mass it is. 

From summit to base it appears to be one indivisible stratum. Here 
and there signs of a division are suspected, but closer scrutiny shows that 
they are produced by the contact of one plexus of cross-bedding with an- 
other, or by some peculiarity in the texture of the rock, or by weathering, 
or some other cause not affecting the dominant fact. From top to bottom it 
is, so far as observed, remarkably homogeneous and constant. The cross 
bedding is unique. It is never wanting, and covers the entire face of every 
exposure with a strange arabesque, or a filagree, as beautiful as frostwork. 
The weathering of the surfaces etches out the more refractory laminae, 
causing them to project from six to ten and sometimes twelve or even fifteen 
inches beyond the softer ones. The bright tone of the rock face, chased 
across by the dark shadows of deeply etched layers, brings out with the 
strongest emphasis the graceful waving of myriads of these curves. The 
Jurassic sandstone is also conspicuous for its cliffs. Every formation in the 
district presents cliffs, and each formation has its own style of architecture 
and sculpture, which is as distinctive as its lithological constitution; for upon 
that constitution the style depends. The style of the Jurassic sandstone is 


characterised hj a peculiar boldness and an extreme simplicity which is even 
severe. Its walls are perfectly plain, with neither horizontal nor vertical 
lines; of decoration there is not a trace, except the cross-bedding, which 
becomes invisible at distances sufficient to render a general view of the 
fronts effective. A notable featm-e is the absence of talus; or, if it be pres- 
ent, its veiy small proportions. Almost all other cliffs have a sensibly ver- 
tical upper portion, suddenly changing to a slope of 30 to 36 degrees in the 
lower portion, and this greatly enhances their beauty and relieves their 
monotony. No such decoration is seen in the Jurassic cliffs, which are 
as devoid of ornament as a fortress. It might be imagined that such 
fronts would be monotonous and tame, and once seen would soon lose all 
interest. Let us not underrate the versatility and resources of Nature, nor 
question her good taste, for she has made these walls as full of life, variety, 
and expression as any others, and yet has conserved the noble dignity of 
which simplicity is an essential part. Instead of a straight, unbroken pali- 
sade, which would be tame indeed, the wall is exceedingly siuuous and an- 
gular, here throwing out a bastion, there deeply recessed by a bay. 
Many chasms are cut through it, cleaving from top to bottom. Many great 
buttes and isolated temples stand out from the parent mass, and the masses 
so isolated often weather into domes and half-domes of bald white rock 
which look a calm defiance of human intrusion. Occasionally, the aus- 
terity of these forms is exchanged for those of the opposite extreme, 
as if Natnre were tired and impatient of all this solemn dignity, and 
the proverbial step from the subhme to the ridiculous is actually taken. 
Looking southward from the brink of the Markagunt the eye is attracted to 
the features of a broad middle terrace upon its southwestern flank, named 
The Colob. It is a veritable wonderland. It lies beyond the Cretaceous 
belt and is far enough away to be obscure in its details, yet exciting curi- 
osity. If we descend to it we shall perceive numberless rock-forms of 
nameless shapes, but often grotesque and ludicrous, starting up from the 
earth as isolated freaks of carving or standing in clusters and rows along 
the white walls of sandstone. They bear little likeness to anything we can 
think of, and yet they tease the imagination to find something whereunto 
they may be likened. Yet the forms are in a certain sense very definite, 





and many of them look merry and farcical. The land here is full of 
comedy. It is a singular display of Nature's art mingled with nonsense. 
It is well named the Colob, for the woi"d has no ascertainable meaning, 
and yet it sounds as if it ought to have one. 

Nor are these the only forms which the Jurassic discloses. Here and 
there blank faces of the white wall are brought into view as the sinuous line 
of its front advances and recedes. Isolated masses cut off from the main 
formation, and often at considerable distances from it, lie with a majestic 
repose upon the broad expanse of the terrace. These sometimes become 
very striking in their forms. They remind us of great forts with bastions 
and scarps nearly a thousand feet high. The smaller masses become regular 
truncated cones with bare slopes. Some of them take the form of great 
domes where the eagles may build their nests in perfect safety. But noblest 
of all are the white summits of the great temples of the Virgen gleaming 
through the haze. Here Nature has changed her mood from levity to 
religious solemnity, and revealed her fervor in forms and structures more 
beautiful than anything in human art. But we shall see more of this here- 
after and from much more advantageous stand-points than the summit of 
the Markagunt. There only faint suggestions of the reality are given. We 
only perceive in imperfect detail some throngs of towers, snow-white above 
and red below, the bristling spires of ornate buttes, or a portion of the 
grand sweep of a wing-wall thrust out from some unseen facade. None of 
them appear in their full relations to the whole, and all of them ai-e weak- 
ened, faded and flattened by the distance. 

The Jurassic white sandstone seems to be peculiar to the northern and 
western portions of the Plateau Province. In southern Colorado and west- 
ern New Mexico, no stratigraphic member has yet been found which can 
be identified with it. There remains, however, the possibility that in those 
more easterly regions the Jurassic sandstone may form the upper part of 
the sandstone series now reckoned as Triassic. Some color is given to this 
view by the following facts. As we pass southeastward from the Aquarius, 
or from the Kaiparowits across the heart of the Plateau Province, we find 
that the exposures of the Jura and Trias both undergo gradual changes of 
aspect. Both formations grow thinner. While they are powerfully con- 


trasted in the terraces — the Jura being one vast indivisible mass of white 
sandstone — the Trias being composed of very many thin and often shaly 
beds of most intense coloi' — yet in proceeding southeastward the Trias loses 
many of its layers, and those which remain are thicker and more massive; 
while the Jura gradually becomes red and shows here and there well-marked 
planes of subdivision. In a word, the two formations become more and more 
alike as we trace them southeastwardly. Between the Grlen Canon and the 
Triassic exposures of New Mexico is an interval of i^O to 120 miles in which 
no explorations of a critical character have been made, and we are therefore 
ignorant of the nature of the transition by which in this unexplored interval 
the identity of the Jurassic sandstone is lost. So far as present knowledge 
is concerned we are at liberty to suppose (1), either that the Jurassic sand- 
stone thins out completely in the interval, or, (2), that it becomes the sum- 
mit of the presumed Trias of New Mexico and cannot be distinguished from it. 
The sandstones of both formations are alike destitute of distinguishable fossils. 
Like the Eocene and the Cretaceous, the Jurassic has its littoral belt 
skirtingf the shore of the old Mesozoic mainland of the Great Basin. All 
the way from the Wasatch southward through central and southwestern 
Utah, thence obliquely into Nevada, without known limits, are found the 
detached exposures of this formation, faulted and displaced after the man- 
ner peculiar to the region. Around the southern flanks of the Markdgunt 
and Paunsdgunt the exposures of the Jurassic are veiy grand and impressive. 
Here it is no longer displaced from sensibly horizontal positions but shows 
many buttes and outliers. None of them are far distant from the principal 
mass. Further eastward the formation is disclosed in an equally conspicu- 
ous manner in the Paria amphitheater. Upon the eastern side of this amphi- 
theater it forms the base courses of the Kaiparowits, and descending east- 
ward by a monoclinal flexure it disappears beneath the immense masses of 
Cretaceous strata which constitute the body of that plateau. All along the 
western wall of the Kaiparowits, as far as the Colorado, it holds this rela- 
tion, exposing its edge upon the upturn of a monocline at the foot of the 
plateau wall. Beyond the Colorado the same relation continues in the 
Echo Cliffs, along the base of which rims the same flexure; and high above 
the Trias, but beneath the Cretaceous, the Jui-assic appears duly in its 





proper place. But there are some other exposures which merit particular 
notice. They are found upon the summit of the Paria Plateau, a mass of 
Triassic and Permian strata of great extent, which has been spared in the 
general denudation. These Jurassic remnants are far away from the prin- 
cipal body. A distance of nearly 35 miles separates the remotest one 
from the Jurassic terrace on the north, and about half that interval lies 
between them and the same formation at the foot of the Kaiparowits. 
These outliers, situated so far out in the heart of the Grand Canon district 
and within a few miles of the Colorado, are noteworthy as fragments of 
evidence indicating the former extension of the Jurassic over the entire 
surface of the denuded platform drained by the Grand and Marble Canons. 
The extension of the Jura south of the Colorado and its exposure in 
the line of the Echo Cliffs has been traced for nearly 60 miles. Its 
mode of resolution there is at present unknown, and must be ascertained 
by future exploration. Enough has been learned, however, to establish the 
fact quite positively that its general relations to the Grand Canon district 
are in all essential respects the same as those of the Cretaceous above it 
and of the Trias beneath it. Its broken edges wall the district on two sides, 
the north and east, and its littoral belt along the Mesozoic shore line of the 
Great Basin goes far towards establishing its former existence along a great 
part of the third or western side. Finally, the occurrence of advanced 
outliers upon the Paria Plateau extend it far out into the interior spaces of 
the Grand Canon district. 


The splendor of the terraces culminates in the Trias. It is separated 
from the Jurassic at the provisionally adopted horizon by a conspicuous 
change in the aspect of its component strata and in the grouping and habit 
of the whole series. Sometimes, however, the dividing horizon is obscured 
by a transition from one to the other through a gradually changing mass of 
sandstone; but more frequently the passage is abrupt. The Jurassic sand- 
stone is without a likeness in any other formation, and the sandstones of the 


Trias can be distinguished from it miles away. One of the most conspic- 
uous characteristics of the latter series is the very great number of distinct 
beds or layers. Most of them ai^e but a few feet in thickness, and there is 
but one stratum which attains very great dimensions. In lithological char- 
acters the series is highly variable. The majority of the members are com- 
mon sandstones, and these predominate most in the upper portions. In the 
middle part they still preponderate, but are individually thinner and are 
more often separated by shaly layers and not unfrequently by bands of 
almost pure gypsum. In the lower portions sandy and argillaceous shales 
of wonderful color predominate ; but nowhere is even a solitary band of 
limestone known to occur. Lime, indeed, is found in these rocks and is 
tolerably abundant, but it is always in the form of gypsum or occasionally 
of selenite. 

The Trias makes its appearance upon the extreme outer flank of the 
Mark^gunt, a little north of the Mormon town Cedar, rising by a fault out 
of the valley alluvium. With a constantly expanding exposure it extends 
southward along the upthrow of the Hurricane fault until the whole of its 
great mass comes to the surface ; then broadening out into a wide terrace, 
it gradually sweeps around the southwestern limit of the Colob over into 
the valley of the Virgen, where it breaks into cliffs, temples, and buttes of 
ineffable splendor and beauty. Thence, with a still wider terrace, bounded 
by magnificent cliffs, it stretches to the southeast as far as Pipe Spring 
Here is the southernmost promontory, from which it trends away to the east- 
northeast in pi'oportions considerably diminished, but still vast and impos- 
ing, as far as the Paria River. The distance is more than 100 miles, in 
which the sinuosities are not reckoned ; and throughout this entire sweep 
it presents to the southward a majestic front richly sculptured and blazing 
with gorgeous colors. The cliff line is exceedingly tortuous, advancing in 
long promontories, with bays and broad canon valleys setting far back into 
the Triassic mesa like a long stretch of coast line gashed with fiords. 
Perhaps the contour of a maple leaf may be a suggestive analogy. 

The altitude of the cliffs is greatest in their western portions, where it 
often exceeds 2,000 feet, while in the portion reaching from Pipe Spring to 
the Paria it seldom exceeds 1 ,400 or 1,500 feet. In the deep bays it is still 
















less, because there is a slight dip back from the crestline, and because the 
alluvial slope leading up from the outer plain rises through a greater dis- 
tance and reaches higher up on the breast of the wall at the heads of the 

At Paria settlement the wall for a time suddenly ends, for the drop of 
the Eastern Kaibab monocline brings its summit to the level of the general 
sui'face. But to the southward the upper Trias spreads out for a great dis- 
tance to form the surface of the Paria Plateau. Along the eastern base of 
the Kaibab the cliff at length begins to rise again out of the earth with un- 
changed forms and lineaments. At the head of House Rock Valley it ap- 
pears first as a low cliff looking westward towards the Kaibab, and as it 
stretches to the south it grows steadily in magnitude. Gradually it swings 
off from the Kaibab, assuming a more easterly and finally a northeasterly 
trend, until it reaches the Echo Cliffs at the head of the Marble Canon. From 
this point its trend is instantly changed to the south, and in this direction it 
continues for 60 miles as the main escarpment of the Echo Cliff. Beyond 
that the Trias breaks up into mesas, terraces, and buttes, covering a great 
area with numberless outliers or limited platforms, here disappearing be- 
neath the Jurassic and Cretaceous or vast floods of Tertiary lavas, there 
ei'oded over spaces of varying width and disclosing the Permian and Car- 
boniferous below. In that distant region its definite topography is unknown ; 
we only know its most general expression. South of the terraces the Trias 
is wholly wanting. But in the colossal mass of San Francisco Mountain, 
60 miles south of the Colorado, Mr. Gilbert discovered a small remnant 
of it rescued from the general wreck by the lavas which once completely 
buried it. 

In the northern part of the Sheavwits Plateau a large Triassic area is 
found. It lies at the base of the Hurricane ledge, and has a marked dip to 
the northward. The Hurricane fault has raised the Carboniferous above 
the summit of the Trias, and while the Carboniferous strata on the lifted 
side are horizontal the Triassic beds on the thrown side have a marked dip 
in a direction parallel to the course of the fault. This arises from the 
rapid increase in the amount of shear or displacement of the Hurricane 
fault. In other words, the thrown beds are sunk lower and lower along the 


noi'thward extension of the fracture, until at length, near the Virgen, the 
Jurassic comes in above the Trias and is depressed below the summit of 
the Carboniferous. This Triassic mass is in reality an outlier of the main 
formation, and extends about 15 to 18 miles in advance of the principal 
mass in the terraces. It is in some sense the counterpart of the Paria 
Plateau, which is a very advanced salient of the Triassic terrace. 

There are also considerable bodies of this formation in the valley of 
the Grand Wash, extending from Saint George, Utah, southward to the 
Colorado. The remotest one occurs near the mouth of the Grand Canon. 
Here the Trias abuts against the base of the Carboniferous in consequence 
of the gigantic displacement of the Grand Wash fault. Not all of the 
series, however, is present here, the summit members having been removed 
by erosion. 

The Trias, like the superior formations, has also its littoi'al belt along 
the Mesozoic shore-line of the Great Basin It occurs in southern Nevada 
in very heavy masses much distorted and faulted. The greatly disturbed 
attitudes of its strata begin as soon as we pass west of the Hurricane and 
Grand Wash faults, and they have all those peculiarities which characterize 
the Basin system. East of those great faults the strata are but little 
affected by vertical movements, except at the sharp lines of the few princi- 
pal dislocations, and are seldom inclined more than one or two degrees. 

In the foregoing accounts of the distribution of the Mesozoic strata it 
will be observed that their eroded edges are situated peripherally about the 
Grand Canon district. None of them completely encircle it. In the case 
of the Cretaceous one-third of the circuit is imknown in detail, and such 
knowledge as we have leads us to presvime that in this part of it few rem- 
nants may exist and perhaps none. In the case of the Jurassic the circuit 
is also incomplete, but some important outliers are found occupying very 
advanced positions out in the interior spaces of the district. In the Trias 
the circuit is much more nearly completed, there are more outliers, and 
they are still further advanced into the interior of the Gi'and Canon plat- 
form. The gaps in the Triassic circuit are still large, but the detached 
masses of it remaining are so important, and their situations so suggestive, 
that the mind has little difficulty in closing it up. This configiu-ation of 


the eroded edges of the Mesozoic system and the distribution of the outliers 
point strongly to the conclusion that all of its formations once stretched 
unbroken across the whole Carboniferous platform which drains into the 
Grand and Marble canons, and that during Tertiary time they have been 
removed from it by erosion. The dimensions of this platform are indeed 
vast, being in round numbers about 13,000 or 14,000 square miles. Before 
accepting the conclusion that a denudation so extensive has really occurred, 
the geologist needs to be assured that the Mesozoic strata were really 
deposited over the whole area. The deposits of that age in other parts of 
the world are often of a very local character. Their continuity is fre- 
quently broken by the intervention of land areas; their bulk varies much 
from place to place; members which have great volume in one locality 
have only a nominal one in another, or perhaps have no assignable counter- 
part or equivalent whatever in other regions. May it not have been so 
here, and may not the great denudation be too hasty and too large a con- 
clusion from imperfect premises! The answer to this question will depend 
largely upon the facts disclosed in the interior of the Grand Canon district, 
and upon facts of structure which will be treated of in other parts of this work. 


The idea of a terrace is not so typically represented in the Permian as 
it is in the superior formations. In many parts of the great stairway it 
clearly forms the lowest step; in others it forms one cliff with the Trias; in 
still others it is beveled off and covered with alluvium. On the whole it is 
more frequently presented as a distinct terrace. There is another qualifica- 
tion which requires some mention, because when we refer to the geological 
map to study the surface distribution of the strata we should find some 
anomalies unless the point referred to were duly explained. 

Wherever we encounter a cliff which discloses the upper Permian 
beds we find at the summit of the escarpment a band of pale-brown sand- 
stone of very coarse texture, often becoming a conglomerate. Its thickness 
is usually from 40 to 75 feet. In a few places it is wanting from its proper 


horizon, and in some others its thickness becomes more than 1 00 feet. But 
on the whole it is a remarkably persistent bed, and its persistence is all the 
more striking when we consider the coarseness of its texture; for no beds 
are so variable as the coarse ones. This member has been named by Pow- 
ell the Shin-4-rump Conglomerate. The name ShinArump he also applied 
provisionall}^ to a large group of beds in which the conglomerate is included. 
For several years it was thought very probable that these beds were a part 
of the Triassic system, though no positive proof could be cited to sustain 
that presumption. In the summer of 1879 Mr. C. D. Walcott, of this survey, 
at length found some limestone bands near the base of Powell's Shindrump, 
which seem to establish pretty conclusively their Permian age. But the 
fossils so far discovered have only a small vertical range, and lie near the 
base of the group. Above them are many hundred feet of beds which yield 
no fossils at all. While some of them are unquestionably Permian, it still 
remains to find the horizon where the Permian ends and the Trias begins. 
The Trias is as destitute of fossils as the Permian, excepting, however, some 
which are useless for determining age. Tn cases hke this the geologist finds 
himself in trouble. He is quite sure that he has beds of two distinct ages; 
and he must, for purposes of discussion, separate them somehow; if not by 
a natural and unmistakable dividing horizon, then by an arbitrary and pro- 
visional one, subject to amendment by future research. As we examine 
the Triassic series from the middle downwards the various beds are so much 
alike in general character that a divisional horizon seems impossible. And 
if we examine the Permian upwards the same similarity is observed. The 
only member which forms a sharp contrast is the Shindrump conglomerate; 
and this stratum was selected by Mr. Walcott for the plane of the division. 
Much more to the purpose is the fact that the conglomerate rests uncon- 
formably upon the Permian shales below. The unconformity, however, 
is by erosion only without any discrepancy of dip. The shales were slightly 
eroded before the conglomerate was laid down, but neither in the emergence 
nor in the following submergence was the rigorous horizontality of the beds 
at all disturbed. Adopting the plane of unconformity rather than the stratum 
itself as the dividing horizon, the conglomerate obviously becomes the 
basal member of the Trias. 


Mr. Walcott's conclusion is no doubt the best which can be reached 
with our pi-esent knowledge, but it is very inconvenient and awkward to 
the geologist who is required to map the distribution of the strata and their 
topographical features. In all of the other formations each group forms its 
own terrace or series of terraces. As we descend them we find ourselves, 
when we reach the foot of the Eocene cliff, upon the summit of the Cre- 
taceous. Reaching the foot of the Cretaceous cliffs, or slopes, we are upon 
the broad expanse of the Jurassic platform. Descending the Jurassic, we 
find the Trias coming out from the base of the Jurassic Cliffs; but when we 
descend the Vermilion Cliffs, we have not reached the Permian. The Trias 
is still beneath us, pushing out its basal member, the Shindrump conglome- 
rate, clear to the crest-line of the Permian wall. In the Jurassic terrace 
and in its terminal cliff we find none but Jurassic strata. Similarly, also, 
in the cliffs and terrace platforms of the Cretaceous and Eocene; but the 
Permian terrace is everywhere sheeted over with a solitary stratum of the 
Trias. Somehow we cannot help thinking that the conglomerate has no 
business there, and that it ought to have been cut off at the base of the 
Vermilion Cliffs, or else it ought to be relegated to the Permian. In deline- 
ating the distribution of the formations by means of colors on the map, the 
ordinary practice would require us to extend the Trias to the brink of the 
Permian Cliffs, for in such delineations we only profess to show the surface 
exposures of the several groups; but this would confound the Permian ter- 
race with the Trias, and obliterate the individuality of the former, whereas 
in the topography both are as distinct as land and water. To preserve this 
distinction the Shindrump is denoted in the large scale maps by special 
modifications of the color, which are to be interpreted as meaning merely 
an arbitrary subdivision of the Trias. In the small scale maps, which are 
designed to express physical rather than stratigraphical facts, I have thrown 
the Shindrump into the Permian. 

The Permian beds consist of sandy clay-shales in very many thin beds 
and a few thin beds of impure limestone. They are very striking on 
account of their dense, rich colors, which are sometimes also wonderfully 
delicate. They are belted in a surprising way. Horizontal streaks of 
chocolate, purple and red-brown are interstratified with violet, lavender, and 


white. Perhaps the richest tone is the red-brown, which is almost exactly 
like the color of the fumes of nitrous acid. Lower in the series are layers 
of a peculiar shade of Indian red, alternating with grayish white. In the 
lower Trias and Permian the colors reach their climax. Surely no other 
region in the world, of which I have any knowledge, can exhibit anything 
comparable to it. Wonderfully even is the bedding. Thin layers may be 
traced for miles without showing any variation of thickness, color, or texture. 
In the escarpments the weathering has etched out the harder layers, leaving 
a line of shadow in the places of the softer layers, and this greatly empha- 
sizes the stratification and gives it finer detail. 

The Permian has many outliers and buttes in the heart of the Grrand 
Canon district; indeed, the entire platform is spotted with them. Usually 
only the basal members of the Permian remain, but in quite a number of 
instances the entire series is preserved. The most notable ones are found 
in the Mounts Trumbull and Logan, on the Uinkaret Plateau, and in the 
Red Butte south of the Kaibab. So far as this formation is concerned the 
evidence of its former extension over the entire district is complete upon 
stratigraphical data alone. The numberless remnants found almost every- 
where throughout its expanse are so many stepping-stones at easy intervals 
which the mind uses in striding from one end of the region to the other 
with its burden of inquiry, and the way to a positive conclusion is easy 
and sure. 


Having thus recited the principal and more obvious features of the 
Mesozoic formations of the terraces, it remains to examine some important 
facts which apply to the whole of them. The first one to be noted is a 
slight but universal dip to the north of all strata exposed in the terraces. 
This dip on the average is less than two degrees, but here and there incli- 
nations as great as four or five degrees may be seen. This dip is very gen- 
eral throughout the teiTaces. Its effect is to make the altitudes of the higher 
or more northerly platforms less — or, conversely, to make the altitudes of 









the lower and more southerly terraces greater — than they would be if the 
whole series were horizontal. In the entire series of beds which are exposed, 
the aggregate thickness from the top of the Carboniferous to the summit of 
the local Eocene is not far from 10,000 feet, but the summit of the Eocene 
at present lies only about 5,000 to 6', 000 feet above the Carboniferous plat- 
form of the Grand Canon district. Thus, if the strata were horizontal, we 
should in ascending the terraces go up 10,000 feet, but the dip to the north- 
ward gradually carries down the horizons so that in crossing the edges of 
10,000 feet of strata we only gain 5,000 to 6,000 feet in altitude. We find 
this same northward dip prevailing in the Carboniferous to the southward, 
and it is a feature of great moment in the studies which are to follow. 

Looking a little more in detail we find a very striking group of siibor- 
dinate facts in connection with these dips. At the base of each terminal 
cliff the dip suddenly increases for a short distance and still further south- 
ward diminishes again. The strata in the median parts of any given ter- 
race are very nearly horizontal and have inclinations scarcely exceeding 
one degree. But as we cross such a terrace northwards and approach the 
front of the wall terminating the next higher terrace the inclination becomes 
three or four degrees, and the beds on which we stand are seen to descend 
beneath the talus or alluvial slope in front of the wall. The mind here in- 
stinctively suggests that this may be due to a general settling down of the 
earth beneath the abrupt increase in the gross weight of the great bodies of 
superposed strata. Or, inversely, that the removal of a corresponding mass 
in front of the trenchant cliff-lines has permitted in some measure the asser- 
tion of the laws of plastic equilibrium. The northward dip of the strata 
and their local increments at the bases of the cliffs is represented in the 
sections (Plate III). 


Another point to be noted is that the strata slowly diminish in thick- 
ness from west to east. The attenuation, however, is ordinarily very slow 
and gradual, and the observer would have to travel many miles along the 


escarpments exposing the edges of the strata before he became aware of it 
It is most noticeable in the Trias, and in the sequel this will be more fully 
discussed. The explanation of this attenuation of the strata towards the 
east is as follows. 

It is a common fact that the greatest thickness of a group of strata is 
usually found near the shore-lines of the mainlands from which their mate- 
rials came. As we recede from these ancient shore-lines we generally find 
that the strata diminish in thickness, at first quite rapidly, but afterwards 
more slowly The materials deposited near the shores are, in many cases, 
of coarser texture than those deposited at a distance from them. This is 
not always true of every distinct bed, but if we consider any group of strata 
with many members we shall usually find it true of the groujD as a whole. 
In the case of the Mesozoic strata of the terraces, they are remnants of beds 
deposited in a sea or bay, the shore-line of which lay to the westward and 
northwestward. The position of this shore-line, no doubt, varied during 
the Mesozoic periods, now advancing and now receding; but in general 
terms its mean position appears to have been nearly along what is now the 
boundary of the Basin Province. The Great Basin was then dry land, un- 
dergoing denudation, and its detritus was washed down on this side into the 
sea, where the Mesozoic strata of the Plateau Province accumulated. The 
position of this ancient shore-line in the sierra country south of the literal 
Basin and west of the Grand Cailon district we do not as yet know ; the 
presumed location not being explored as yet. This attenuation of the 
strata and their relation to the shore-line of the mainland, from which they 
were in great part at least derived, is another important factor which must 
be kept in mind in the course of the discussion. 


It will be well to bestow also a glance at the distribution of the more 
important drainage channels. The western portion of the terrace is drained 
by the branches of the Virgen River. Upon the Colob heads the northern 
fork of the Virgen, sometimes called the Mu-kiin-tu-weap, sometimes Little 


Zion River. It flows due south. East of this is the eastern fork, called the 
Pa-rii-nu-weap. Both branches have their sources at the base of the Pink 
Cliffs (Eocene), and at length unite to form the Virgen. Their channels 
are surely very wonderful freaks of nature. The Parunuweap, after col- 
lecting its several filaments on the slopes of the Cretaceous terrace, at length 
begins to burrow into the Jurassic, cutting a very deep and remarkably 
narrow gap in the white sandstone, and then into and through the Ti-ias. 
For many miles it flows in a mere cleft barely 50 feet wide at the bottom 
and sometimes narrower, and attaining a depth of more than 2,500 feet. In 
scouring down its channel into the sandstones the stream did not cut always 
vertically, but swayed from side to side, so that now great bulges of the 
wall overhang the bottom of the abyss, and in some places shut out the sky 
overhead. The Makiintuweap, or Little Zion Fork, is even more remarka- 
ble. For a considerable distance this stream also runs in a profound and 
exceptionally narrow chasm, but it at length widens out, and just where it 
joins the Parunuweap is a scene which must ultimately become, when the 
knowledge of it is spread, one of the most admired in the world. Of this 
hereafter. Below the junction of the forks the Virgen flows westward, and 
passes out of the terraces and out of the Plateau Province. At length it 
joins the Colorado. 

East of the drainage area of the Virgen is that of Kanab Creek. It 
heads in the broad valley of Upper Kanab, which occupies an indentation 
of the southern margin of the High Plateaus between the Markagunt and 
Paunsagunt. The bulk of the drainage passes through the upper canon of 
Kanab Creek, and at length emerges upon the desert to the southward. 
Further on it sinks another chasm in the Carboniferous, which becomes a 
mighty side gorge of the Colorado, and unites with the Grand Canon in 
the middle of the Kanab division. 

Still eastward is the great amphitheater which gives rise to the branches 
of the Paria. This stream flows southeastward and ultimately enters the 
Colorado at the head of the Marble Canon. 

In these three subordinate drainage basins of the terraces it is well to 

notice some features of importance, common more or less to all, but most 

distinctly seen in Kanab Creek. They all run contrary to the dip of the 
4 G c 


strata. The summits of the terraces dip to the northward, while the streams 
run southward. They thus form each a chain of canons. Thus, Kanab 
Creek, with its upper tributaries flowing in open valleys, at length begins to 
cut into the Jurassic, and its gorge, ever deepening, at length becomes 
nearly a thousand feet in depth. Suddenly the canon walls swing to right 
and left to form the mural front which terminates the Jurassic terrace, and 
the river, now at the summit of the Trias, is once more in open country ; 
but only for a short distance, for it soon begins to cut into the Trias, form- 
ing a great canon as before. The same process is repeated and the river 
flows out of its Triassic chasm into the open again, while its walls swing in 
either direction to form the terminal escarpment of the Triassio terrace. 

The three streams just mentioned are not the only drainage channels 
in the terraces, though they are the principal ones, and sooner or later 
gather the greater part of the drainage. There are many canons in the ter- 
races, and they all have the same relation to the cliff's and to the dips of the 
strata. They cut into the terraces and emerge from them at the bases of 
their several cliff's. All except the three first mentioned are dry, carrying 
no streams except spasmodic floods during heavy rains and the melting of 
the snows. Many of them are actually filling up, the floods being unable 
to carry away all the sand and clay which the infrequent rains wash into 



Grandeur and extent of the Vermilion CliiFs. — Their architecture and characteristic profiles. — Increase 
of their dimensions ftom Pipe Spring promontory to the Valley of the Virgen. — The great sand- 
stone entablature. — Their buttes. — Towers at Short Creek. — Cloud effects. — Optical delusions. — 
Smithsonian Butte. — The Temples and Towers of the Virgen. — Little Zion Valley. 

To this great wall, terminating the Triassic terrace and stretching from 
the Hurricane Ledge to the Paria, Powell has given the name of The Ver- 
milion Cliffs. Their great altitude, the remarkable length of their line of 
frontage, the persistence with which their proportions are sustained through- 
out the entire interval, their ornate sculpture and rich coloring, might justify 
very exalted language of description. But to the southward, just where the 
desert surface dips downward beneath the horizon, are those supreme walls 
of the Grand Canon, which we must hereafter behold and vainly strive to 
describe; and however worthy of admiration the Vermilion Cliffs may be 
we must be frugal of adjectives, lest in the chapters to be written we find 
their force and meaning exhausted. They will be weak and vapid enough 
at best. Yet there are portions of the Vermilion Cliffs which in some re- 
spects lay hold of the sensibilities with a force not much less overwhelming 
than the majesty of the Grand Canon ; not in the same way, not by virtue 
of the same elements of power and impressiveness, but in a way of their 
own and by attributes of their own. In mass and grandeur and in the 
extent of the display there is no comparison ; it would be like compai'ing 
a jjrivate picture gallery containing a few priceless treasures with the wealth 
of art in the Vatican or Louvre. All of the really superlative portions of 
the Vermilion Cliffs could be comfortably displayed in any one of half a 
dozen amphitheaters opening into the Kaibab division of the Grand Canon. 



These portions occur in the l^eautiful valley of the Virgen,and they, as 
well as the features which characterize the entire front of the Vermilion 
Cliffs, merit some attempt at description. 

Each of the greater sedimentary groups of the terraces, from the Eo- 
cene to the Permian, inclusive, has its own style of sculpture and architect- 
ure; and it is at first surprising and always pleasing to observe how 
strongly the several styles contrast with each other. The elephantine 
structures of the Nile, the Grecian temples, the pagodas of China, the cathe- 
drals of Western Europe, do not oifer stronger contrasts than those we suc- 
cessively encounter as we descend the great stairway which leads down 
from the High Plateaus. As we pass from one terrace to another the scene 
is wholly changed; not only in the bolder and grander masses which dom- 
inate the landscape, but in every detail and accessory ; in the tone of the 
color-masses, in the vegetation, and in the spirit and subjective influences 
of the scenery. Of these many and strong antitheses, there is none 
stronger than that between the repose of the Jura and the animation of the 

The profile of the Vermilion Cliffs is very complex, though conforming 
to a definite type and made up of simple elements. Though it varies much 
in different localities it never loses its typical character. It consists of a 
series of vertical ledges rising tier above tier, story above story, with inter- 
vening slopes covered with talus through which the beds project their fretted 
edges. The stratification is always revealed with perfect distinctness and 
is even emphasized by the peculiar weathering. The beds are very numer- 
ous and mostly of small or moderate thickness, and the partings of the 
sandstones include layers of gypsum or gypsiferous sand and shale. The 
weathering attacks these gypseous layers with great effect, dissolving them 
to a considerable depth into the wall-face, producing a deeply engraved line 
between the including sandstones. This line is always in deep shadow and 
throws into strong relief the bright edges of the strata in the rock-face, 
separating them from each other with uncommon distinctness. Where the 
profiles are thrown well into view the vertical lines, which bound the 
faces of the ledges, are quite perpendicular and straight, while the lines 
of the intervening slopes are feebly concave, being, in fact, descending 








■* f^ 

>^S^~ .' 




branches of hyperbolas. They are graceful in form and indeed genuine 
lines of beauty. The angles where the straight and curved lines meet, 
at the bases and summits of the ledges, are very keen and well cut. The 
composite effect thus given by the multiple cliffs and sloping water-tables 
rising story above story, by the acute definition of the profiles and hori- 
zontal moldings, and by the refined though unobtrusive details, is highly 
architectural and ornate, and contrasts in the extreme with the rough, 
craggy, beetling aspect of the cliffs of other regions. This effect is much 
enhanced by the manner in which the wall advances in promontories or 
recedes in alcoves, and by the wings and gables with sharp corners and 
Mansard roofs jutting out from every lateral face where there is the least 
danger of blankness or monotony. In many places canons have cut the 
terrace platform deeply, and open in magnificent gateways upon the broad 
desert plain in front. We look ioto them from afar, wonderingly and ques- 
tioningly, with a fancy pleased to follow their windings until their sudden 
turns carry them into distant, unseen depths. 

Northwestward of the southernmost promontory at Pipe Spring, the 
cliffs steadily increase in grandeur and animation, and also assume new 
features. Near the summit of the series is a very heavy stratum of sand- 
stone, which is everywhere distinguishable from the others. This member 
is seen at Kanab with a thickness of about 200 feet. It increases westward, 
becoming 400 feet at Pipe Spring. Beyond that it still increases, reaching 
a thickness of more than 1,200 feet in the valley of the Virgen It has 
many strong features, and yet they elude description. One point, however, 
may be seized upon, and that is a series of joints nearly vertical with which 
the mass is everywhere riven. The fissures thus produced have been 
slowly enlarged by weathering, and down the face of every escarpment 
run the dark shadows of these rifts. They reach often from top to bottom 
of the mass and penetrate deeply its recesses. Wherever this great mem- 
ber forms the entablature — and west of Pipe Spring it usually does so — its 
crest is uneven and presents towers and buttresses produced by the widen- 
ing of these cracks. Near Short Creek it breaks into lofty truncated 
towers of great beauty and grandeur, with strongly emphasized vertical 
lines and decorations, suggestive of cathedral architecture on a colossal 


scale. Still loftier and more ornate become the structures as we approach 
the Virgen. At length they reach the sublime. The altitudes increase 
until they approach 2,000 feet above the plain. The wall is recessed with 
large amphitheaters, buttressed with huge spurs and decorated with towers 
and pinnacles. Here, too, for the first time, along their westward trend, 
the Vei-milion Cliffs send off buttes. And giant buttes they verily are, 
rearing their unassailable summits into the domain of the clouds, rich with 
the aspiring forms of Gothic type, and flinging back in red and purple the 
intense sunlight poured over them. Could the imagination blanch those 
colors, it might compare them with vast icebergs, rent from the front of a 
glacier and floating majestically out to sea, only here it is the parent mass 
that recedes, melting away through the ages, while its offspring stands still; 
yet the analogy would be a feeble one, for the buttes are grander, more 
definite in form, and many times loftier. But the climax of this scenery is 
still beyond. 

Late in the autvimn of 1880 1 rode along the base of the Vermilion Cliffs 
from Kanab to the Virgen, having the esteemed companionship of Mr. 
Holmes. We had spent the summer and most of the autumn among the 
cones of the Uinkaret, in the dreamy parks and forests of the Kaibab, and 
in the solitudes of the intervening desert ; and our sensibilities had been 
somewhat overtasked by the scenery of the Grand Caiion. It seemed to 
to us that all grandeur and beauty thereafter beheld must be mentally pro- 
jected against the recollection of those scenes, and be dwarfed into com- 
monplace by the comparison ; but as we moved onward the walls increased 
in altitude, in animation, and in power. At length the towers of Short 
Creek burst into view, and, beyond, the great cliff in long perspective 
thrusting out into the desert plain its gables and spurs. The day was a 
rare one for this region. The mild, subtropical autumn was over, and just 
giving place to the first approaches of winter. A sullen storm had been 
gathering fi'om the southwest, and the first rain for many months was fall- 
ing, mingled with snow. Heavy clouds rolled up against the battlements, 
spreading their fleeces over turret and crest, and sending down curling- 
flecks of white mist into the nooks and recesses between towers and but- 
tresses. Tlie next day was rarer still, with sunshine and storm battling for 





the mastery. Rolling masses of cumuli rose up into the blue to incompre- 
hensible heights, their flanks and summits gleaming with sunlight, their 
nether surfaces above the desert as flat as a ceiling, and showing, not the 
dull neutral gray of the east, but a rosy tinge caught from the reflected 
red of rocks and soil. As they drifted rapidly against the great barrier, 
the currents from below flung upward to the summits, rolled the vaporous 
masses into vast whorls, wrapping them around the towers and crest-lines, 
and scattering torn shreds of mist along the rock-faces. As the day wore 
on the sunshine gained the advantage. From overhead the cloud-masses 
stubbornly withdrew, leaving a few broken ranks to maintain a feeble resist- 
ance. But far in the northwest, over the Colob, they rallied their black 
forces for a more desperate struggle, and answered with defiant flashes of 
lightning the incessant pour of sun-shafts. 

Superlative cloud effects, common enough in other countries, are lament- 
ably infrequent here; but, when they do come, their value is beyond 
measure. During the long, hot summer days, when the sun is high, the 
phenomenal features of the scenery are robbed of most of their grandeur, 
and cannot, or do not, wholly reveal to the observer the realities which 
render them so instructive and interesting. There are few middle tones of 
light and shade. The effects of foreshortening are excessive, almost beyond 
belief, and produce the strangest deceptions. Masses which are widely 
separated seem to be superposed or continuous. Lines and surfaces, which 
extend towards us at an acute angle with the radius of vision, are warped 
around until they seem to cross it at a right angle. Grand fronts, which 
ought to show depth and varying distance, become flat and are troubled 
with false perspective. Proportions which are full of grace and meaning 
are distorted and belied. During the midday hours the chffs seem to wilt 
and droop as if retracting their grandeur to hide it from the merciless 
radiance of the sun whose very effulgence flouts them. Even the colors 
are ruined. The glaring face of the wall, where the light falls full upon it, 
wears a scorched, overbaked, discharged look; and where the dense black 
shadows are thrown — for there are no middle shades — the magical haze of 
the desert shines forth with a weird, metallic glow which has no color in it. 
But as the sun declines there comes a revival. The half-tones at length 


appear, bringing into relief the component masses ; the amphitheaters 
recede into suggestive distances ; the salients silently advance towards us ; 
the distorted lines range themselves into true perspective; the deformed 
curves come back to their proper sweep; the angles grow clean and sharp; 
and the whole cliff arouses from lethargy and erects itself in grandeur 
and power as if conscious of its own majesty. Back also come the colors, 
and as the sun is about to sink they glow with an intense orange vermihon 
that seems to be an intrinsic luster emanating from the rocks themselves. 
But the great gala-days of the cliffs are those when sunshine and storm are 
waffino- an even battle ; when the massive banks of clouds send their white 
diffuse light into the dark places and tone down the intense glare of the 
direct rays ; when they roll over the summits in stately procession, wrap- 
ping them in vapor and revealing cloud-girt masses here and there through 
wide i-ifts. Then the truth appears and all deceptions are exposed. Their 
real grandeur, their true forms, and a just sense of their relations are at 
last fairly presented, so that the mind can grasp them. And they are very 
o-rand — even sublime. There is no need, as we look upon them, of fancy 
to heighten the picture, nor of metaphor to present it. The simple truth 
is quite enough. I never before had a realizing sense of a chff 1,800 to 
2,000 feet high. I think I have a definite and abiding one at present. 

As we moved northward from Short Creek, we had frequent opportu- 
nities to admire these cliffs and buttes, with the conviction that they were 
revealed to us in their real magnitudes and in their true relations. They 
awakened an enthusiasm more vivid than we had anticipated, and one 
which the recollection of far grander scenes did ffot dispel. At length the 
trail descended into a shallow basin where a low ledge of sandstones, imme- 
diately upon the right, shut them out from view ; but as we mounted the 
opposite rim a new scene, grander and more beautiful than before, suddenly 
broke upon us. The cliff again appeared, presenting the heavy sandstone 
member in a sheer wall nearly a thousand feet high, with a steep talus 
beneath it of eleven or twelve hundred feet more. Wide alcoves receded 
far back into the mass, and in their depths the clouds floated. Long, sharp 
spurs plunged swiftly down, thrusting their monstrous buttresses into the 
plain below, and sending up pinnacles and towers along the knife edges. 


GKAiVn C.-tJiO/V D/STE/cr. PL. X 



But the controlling object was a great butte which sprang into view imme- 
diately before us, and which the salient of the wall had hitherto masked. 
Upon a pedestal two miles long and 1,000 feet high, richly decorated with 
horizontal moldings, rose four towers highly suggestive of cathedral archi- 
tecture. Their altitude above the plain was estimated at about 1,800 feet. 
They were separated by vertical clefts made by the enlargement of the 
joints, and many smaller clefts extending from the summits to the pedestal 
carved the turrets into tapering buttresses, which gave a graceful aspiring 
effect with a remarkable definiteness to the forms. We named it Smith- 
sonian Butte, and it was decided that a sketch should be made of it; but 
in a few moments the plan was abandoned or forgotten. For over a notch 
or saddle foi'med by a low isthmus which connected the butte with the prin- 
cipal mesa there sailed slowly and majestically into view, as we rode along, 
a wonderful object. Deeply moved, we paused a moment to contemplate it, 
and then abandoning the trail we rode rapidly towards the notch, beyond 
which it soon sank out of sight. In an hour's time we reached the crest of 
the isthmus, and in an instant there flashed before us a scene never to be 
forgotten. In coming time it will, I believe, take rank with a very small 
number of spectacles each of which will, in its own way, be regai'ded as 
the most exquisite of its kind which the world discloses. The scene before 
us was 


At our feet the surface drops down by cliff and talus 1,200 feet upon a 
broad and rugged plan cut by narrow canons. The slopes, the winding 
ledges, the bosses of projecting rock, the naked, scanty soil, display 
colors which are truly amazing. Chocolate, maroon, purple, lavender, 
magenta, with broad bands of toned white, are laid in horizontal belts, 
strongly contrasting with each other, and the ever- varying slope of the sur- 
face cuts across them capriciously, so that the sharply defined belts wind 
about like the contours of a map From right to left across the further 
foreground of the picture stretches the inner canon of the Virgen, about 


700 feet in depth, and here of considerable width. Its bottom is for the 
most part unseen, but in one place is disclosed by a turn in its course, show- 
ing the vivid green of vegetation. Across the canon, and rather more than 
a mile and a half beyond it, stands the central and commanding object of 
the picture, the western temple, rising 4,000 feet above the river. Its 
glorious summit was the object we had seen an hour before, and now the 
matchless beauty and majesty of its vast mass is all before us. Yet it 
is only the central object of a mighty throng of structures wrought up to 
the same exalted style, and filling up the entire panorama. Right opposite 
us are the two principal forks of the Virgen, the Parunuweap coming from 
the right or east, and the Mukuntuweap or Little Zion Valley, descending 
towards us from the north. The Parunuweap is seen emerging on the 
extreme right through a stupendous gateway and chasm in the Triassic 
terrace, nearly 3,000 feet in depth. The further wall of this canon, at the 
opening of the gateway, quickly swings northward at a right angle and 
becomes the eastern wall of Little Zion Valley. As it sweeps down the 
Parunuweap it breaks into great pediments, covered all over with the richest 
carving. The effect is much like that which the architect of the Milan 
Cathedral appears to have designed, though here it is vividly suggested 
rather than fully realized — as an artist painting in the "broad style" sug- 
gests many things without actually drawing them. The sumptuous, bewil- 
dering, mazy effect is all there, but when we attempt to analyze it in detail 
it eludes us. The flank of the wall receding up the Mukuntuweap is for a 
mile or two similarly decorated, but soon breaks into new forms much more 
impressive and wonderful. A row of towers half a mile higli is quarried 
out of the palisade, and stands well advanced from its face. There is an 
eloquence to their forms which stirs the imagination with a singular power, 
and kindles in the mind of the dullest observer a glowing response. Just, 
behind them, rising a thousand feet highei', is the eastern temple, crowned 
with a cylindric dome of white sandstone ; but since it is, in many respects, 
a repetition of the nearer western temple, we ma}^ turn our attention to the 
latter. Directly in front of us a complex group of wliite towers, springing 
from a central pile, mounts upwards to the clouds. Out of their midst, 
and high over all, rises a dome-like mass, which dominates the entire land- 






scape. It is almost pure white, with brilliant streaks of carmine descending 
its vertical walls. At the summit it is truncated, and a flat tablet is laid 
upon the top, showing its edge of deep red. It is impossible to liken this 
object to any familiar shape, for it resembles none. Yet its shape is far 
from being indefinite; on the contrary, it has a definiteness and individu- 
ality which extort an exclamation of surprise when first beheld. There is 
no name provided for such an object, nor is it worth while to invent one. 
Call it a dome; not because it has the ordinary shape of such a structure, 
but because it perfox'ms the function of a dome. 

The towers which surround it are of inferior mass and altitude, but 
each of them is a study of fine form and architectural effect. They are 
white above, and change to a strong, rich red below. Dome and towers 
are planted upon a substructure no less admirable. Its plan is indefinite, 
but its profiles are perfectly systematic. A curtain wall 1,400 feet high de- 
scends vertically from the eaves of the temples and is succeeded by a steep 
slope of ever-widening base courses leading down to the esplanade below. 
The curtain-wall is decorated with a lavish display of vertical moldings, 
and the ridges, eaves, and mitered angles are fretted with serrated cusps. 
This ornamentation is suggestive rather than precise, but it is none the less 
effective. It is repetitive, not symmetrical. But though exact symmetry 
is wanting, nature has here brought home to us the truth that symmetry is 
only one of an infinite range of devices by which beauty can be materialized. 

And liner forms are in the quarry 
Thau ever Angelo evoked. 

Reverting to the twin temple across Little Zion Valley, its upper mass 
is a repetition of the one which crowns the western pile. It has the same 
elliptical contour, and a similar i-ed tablet above. In its effect upon the 
imagination it is much the same. But from the point from which we first 
viewed them — and it is by far the best one accessible — it was too distant to 
be seen to the fullest advantage, and the western temple by its greater 
proximity overpowered its neighbor. 

Nothing can exceed the wondrous beauty of Little Zion Valley, which 
separates the two temples and their respective groups of towers. Nor are 
these the only sublime structures which look down into its depths, for simi- 


lar ones are seen on either hand along its receding vista until a turn in the 
course carries the valley out of sight. In its proportions it is about equal 
to Yo Semite, but in the nobility and beauty of the sculptures there is no 
comparison. It is Hyperion to a satyr. No wonder the fierce Mormon 
zealot, who named it, was reminded of the Great Zion, on which his fei'vid 
thoughts were bent — "of houses not built with hands, eternal in the heavens." 
From those highly wrought groups in the center of the picture the eye 
escapes to the westward along a mass of cliffs and buttes covered with the 
same profuse decoration as the walls of the temples and of the Pariinuweap. 
Their color is brilliant red. Much animation is imparted to this part of the 
scene by the wandering courses of the mural fronts which have little con- 
tinuity and no definite trend The Triassic terrace out of which they have 
been carved is cut into by broad amphitheaters and slashed in all directions 
by wide canon valleys. The resulting escarpments stretch their courses in 
every direction, here fronting towards \\s, there averted; now receding be- 
hind a nearer mass, and again emerging from an unseen alcove. Far to the 
westward, twenty miles away, is seen the last palisade lifting its imposing 
front behind a mass of towers and domes to an altitude of probably near 
3,000 feet and with a grandeur which the distance cannot dispel. Beyond 
it the scenery changes almost instantly, for it passes at once into the Great 
Basin, which, to this region, is as another world. 


The great lesson of the terraces is erosion. — Its amount stated. — The amount though very great is not 
abnormal. — Erosion and deposition are complementary processes. — Methods of erosion by reces- 
sion of cliffs. — Examination of the evidences of the erosion. — Argument from the stratification. 
Argument from the displacements. — Argument from the drainage system.— Base levels of erosion. 

Before leaving the terraces we may with advantage pause to contem- 
plate the great lesson which they lay open to us. The subject of the lesson 
is Erosion. The geologist, seeing that around a considerable part of the 
periphery of the Grrand Canon district the Eocene and Mesozoic strata 
suddenly terminate in great cliffs facing the Carboniferous platform, would 
at once conclude that these strata formerly reached beyond their present 
boundaries. But how far ? The answer may be proposed at once. They 
extended over the entire Grand Canon district and reached into central 
Arizona, where they ended along the shore of an ancient mainland, from 
which their materials were in part derived. The distance of that shore-line 
from the summit of the Pink Cliffs is from 130 to 180 miles, and the width 
of the denuded district is from 120 to 140 miles. From the base of the 
Vermilion Cliffs the distance is from 25 to 30 miles less. The area of maxi- 
mum denudation is from 13,000 to 15,000 square miles, and the average 
thickness of the strata removed from it was about 10,000 feet. 

The general reader will no doubt feel a strong aversion to such pro- 
digious figures, and even the geologist may hesitate. In order that the reader 
may not be obliged to carry a heavy burden of prejudice as he follows the 
various steps of the argument, it is well to anticipate some part of the dis- 
cussion and thus relieve him of a great part of the load at the outset ; for 
it can be shown that the figures, while they are certainly very large, are in 
no respect abnormal and in only one respect are they at all unusual. 



Erosion viewed in one way is the supplement of the process by which 
strata are accumulated. The materials which constitute the stratified rocks 
were derived from the degradation of the land. This proposition is funda- 
mental in geology — nay, it is the broadest and most comprehensive propo- 
sition with which that science deals. It is to geology what the law of gravi- 
tation is to astronomy. We can conceive no other origin for the materials 
of the strata, and no other is needed, for this one is sufficient and its verity 
a thousand times proven. Erosion and "sedimentation" are the two half 
phases of one cycle of causation — the debit and credit sides of one system 
of transactions. The quantity of material which the agents of erosion deal 
with is in the long run exactly the same as the quantity dealt with by the 
agencies of deposition ; or, rather, the materials thus spoken of are one and 
the same. If, then, we would know how great have been the quantities of 
material removed in any given geological age from the land by erosion, we 
have only to estimate the mass of the strata deposited in that age. Con- 
strained by this reasoning the mind has no escape from the conclusion that 
the eff'ects of erosion have indeed been vast. If then these operations have 
achieved such results, our wonder is transferred to the immensity of the 
periods of time required to accomplish them; for the processes are so slow 
that the span of a life-time seems too small to render those results directly 
visible. As we stand before the terrace cliff's and try to conceive of them 
receding scores of miles by secular waste, we find the endeavor quite use- 
less. There is, however, one error against which we must guard ourselves. 
"We must not conceive of erosion as merely sapping the face of a straight 
serried wall a hundred miles long ; the locus of the wall receding parallel 
to its former position at the rate of a foot or a few feet in a thousand years; 
the terrace back of its crest line remaining solid and uncut ; the beds thus 
dissolving edgewise until after the lapse of millions of centuries their termi- 
nal cliffs stand a hundred miles or more back of their initial positions. Tlie 
true story is told by the Triassic terrace ending in the Vermilion Cliffs. This 
terrace is literally sawed to pieces with canons There are dozens of these 
chasms opening at intervals of two or three miles along the front of the 
escarpment and setting far back into its mass. Every one of them ramifies 
again and again until they become an intricate net-woi-k, like the fibers of 


a leaf. Every canon wall, throughout its trunk, branches, and twigs, and 
every alcove and niche, becomes a dissolving face. Thus the lines and area 
of attack are enormously multiplied. The front wall of the terrace is cut 
into promontories and bays. The interlacing of branch canons back of the 
wall cuts off the promontories into detached buttes, and the buttes, attacked 
on all sides, molder away. The rate of recession, therefore, is correspond- 
ingly accelerated in its total effect. 

The largeness of the area presents really no difficulty. The forces 
which break up the rocks are of meteoric origin. The agency which car- 
ries off the ddbris is the water running in the drainage channels. Surely 
the meteoric forces which ravage the rocks of a township may ravao-e 
equally the rocks of the county or state, provided only the conditions are 
uniform over the larger and smaller areas. And what is the limit to the 
length of a stream, the number of its branches and rills, and to the quantity 
of water it may carry ! It is not the area, then, which oppresses us by its 
magnitude, but the vertical factor — the tliickness of the mass removed. 
But upon closer inspection the aspect of this factor also will cease to be for- 

For if the rate of recession of a wall fifty feet high is one foot in a given 
number of years, what will be (ceteris paribus) the rate of recession in a 
wall a thousand feet high ? Very plainly the rate will be the same.* If 
we suppose two walls of equal length, composed of the same kind of rocks, 
and situated under the same climate, but one of them twice as high as the 
other, it is obvious that the areas of wall-face will be proportional to their 
altitudes. In order that the rates of recession may be equal, the amount of 
material removed from the higher one must be double that removed from 
the other, and since the forces operating on the higher one have twice the 
area of attack, they ought to remove from it a double quantity, thus making 
the rates of recession equal. In the same way it may be shown that the 

* The geologist will no doubt recognize that this is a simple and unqualified statement of a result 
which is in reality very complex, and sometimes requiring qualification. But a candid review of it in 
the light of established laws governing erosion will, I am confident, justify it for all purposes here con- 
templated. Though some qualifying conditions will appear when the subject is analyzed thoroughly, 
they are of no npplioation to this particular stage of the argument. The statement is amply true for 
the proposition in hand, and it would be hardly practicable, and certainly very prolix, to give here the 
full analysis of it. 


rate of recession is substantially independent of the magnitude of the cliff, 
whatever its altitude. Here a momentary digression is necessary. 

We have hitherto spoken of the recession of the cliffs as if it comprised 
the whole process of erosion, and have hardly alluded to the possible deg- 
radation of the flat surfaces of plateaus, terraces, and plains. Is it meant 
that there is no degradation of the horizontal surfaces, and that the waste of 
the land is wholly wrought by the decay of chffs? Approximately that is 
the meaning, but some greater precision may be given to the statement. 

Erosion is the result of two complex groups of processes. The first 
group comprises those which accomplish the disintegration of the rocks, 
reducing them to fragments, pebbles, sand, and clay. The second com- 
prises those processes which remove the debris and carry it away to another 
part of the world. The first is called disintegration; the second, transpor- 
tation. We need not attempt to study these processes in all their scope 
and relations, but we may advert only to those considerations which are 
of immediate concern. When the dt^bris produced by the disintegration 
of rocks is left to accumulate upon a flat surface it forms a protecting 
mantle to the rocks beneath, and the disintegration is greatly retarded, or 
even wholly stopped. In order that disintegration may go on rapidly the 
debris must be carried away as rapidly as it forms. But the efficiency 
of transportation depends upon the declivity. The greater the slope the 
greater the power of water to transport. When the slope is greater than 
30° to 33° (the angle of repose), loose matter cannot lie upon the rocks, 
and shoots down until it finds a resting place. Hence the greater the 
slope the more fully are the rocks exposed to the disintegrating forces, 
and the more rapidly do they decay. This relation is universal, applying 
to all countries, and explains how it comes about that the attack of erosion 
is highly effective against the cliffs and steep slopes, and has but a trifling 
effect upon flat surfaces. 

Reverting to the main argument, it now appears that erosion goes on 
by the decay and removal of material from cliffs and slopes; that the recession 
of high cHffs is as rapid as the recession of low ones, and that the quantity 
of material removed in a given time increases with the altitudes of the chffs 
and slopes. In other words, the thickness of the strata removed in a given 


period of erosion should be proportional to the amount of relief in the pro- 
files of the country. But in the Plateau Country, and especially in the 
Grand Canon district, these reliefs are very great. It is a region of giant 
cliffs and profound canons, and, as will ultimately appear, it has been so 
during a very long stretch of geological time. The thickness of the strata 
removed from it is only proportional to the values of those conditions which 
favor rapid erosion. In the foregoing discussion it may appear that the 
area of denudation in the Grand Canon district, though large, and the 
thickness of the strata denuded, though very great, are not so excessive as 
to impose such a heavy bui'den upon the credulity as the first announce- 
ment of the figures portended. 

We may now proceed to examine the evidence upon which the infer- 
ence of so great a denudation is founded. In this discussion three classes 
of facts will be utilized: 1st, the stratification; 2d, the displacements; 3d, 
the drainage. Each, by itself alone considered, might be deemed insufii- 
cient; but when they are all placed in their natural relations to each other, 
they form a compact and self-consistent whole which is quite convincing. 

I. In drawing inferences from the stratification, the geologist is obvi- 
ously bound to presume that the beds cut off in the terraces, and in the long 
line of the Echo Cliffs, extended originally without a break, until they 
reached some locality where the conditions of deposition failed. There are 
two, and only two, cases to be considered. The first case is that in which 
the extension is towards the shore-line of the sea in which the strata were 
deposited. At the shore-line of course the strata ended. The second case 
involves their extension away from shore-lines, in which event they thin 
out seaward, and either vanish entirely or dwindle to a merely nominal 
volume. It becomes essential therefore to ascertain something about the 
situations of the shore-lines of the sea in which the Mesozoic strata were 

In the preceding chapter I have frequently alluded to the littoral belt 

of strata situated in southwestern Utah and Nevada. These strata are the 

continuations of those which form the terraces and the entire sedimentar}^ 

masses of the High Plateaus. In Mesozoic time the Great Basin area of 

Nevada and western Utah was a large mainland, and the littoral belt 
5 G o 


referred to lies along a portion of its southeastern shore. Great masses of 
Triassic and Jurassic beds are turned up along this belt with every indi- 
cation of a shore-line: conglomerates, coarse sandstones, and grits, much 
faulted and flexed, and showing those pecuHar unconformities produced by 
the sinking and flexing of overloaded Httoral beds, as the coarse detritus is 
rapidly piled up. Beyond is the greatly ravaged platform of Archaean and 
Paleozoic rocks. It has been shown in the preceding chapter that these 
formations and indeed the entire Mesozoic slowly attenuate as they recede 
eastward and east-southeast from this shore line. The extension of the 
shore of the Mesozoic mainland towards the west or southwest remains to 
be sought. It has never yet been explored. But another portion of the 
coast of the Mesozoic sea important for our purposes may be pointed out. 

Starting from the base of the Vermilion Cliff's and proceeding southward 
to the Grand Canon, we find no traces of a shore-line. If any more recent 
than Carboniferous time had existed in the interval, it would have left 
vestiges, and these vestiges could not have escaped our observation. In 
the extension of the formations of the terraces, therefore, we find no logical 
halting place north of the Grand Canon. In all the interval the conditions 
of the problem are quite unchanged. The logic vtdiich extends them a 
half mile extends them to the brink of the chasm. But even here the 
problem persists. The mind leaps across the abyss only to find the object 
of its pursuit receding ever southward. At the San Francisco Mountains 
the pursuit is not ended. Here are several ^tnas surrounded by a host of 
young craters which have deluged the country with rhyolite and basalt, 
hiding the strata beneath. Beyond these Phlegraean fields the Carbonifer- 
ous beds reappear as before, stretching away southward and sensibly hori- 
zontal until at last they come to a sudden end in the x^ubrey Cliff's. These 
cliffs face southward and southwestward, overlooking a region of totally 
different character from that of the Plateau Province. It is a sierra country 
quite similar to the Great Basin. It discloses a rugged platform of Archaean 
rocks, here preserving a few old rags of lower Carboniferous strata, there 
covered with cumbrous masses of rhyolite and irregular slops of basalt. 
It is bent, warped, shattered, faulted, and flexed; with short misshapen 


ridges of granite, gneiss, and schist, traversing it at narrow intervals, and 
with their axes trending northwest and southeast. 

Here at last is the logical halting place. The sierra country beyond 
the Aubrey ClifFs was a mainland in Mesozoic time just like the Great 
Basin, and sent down its detritus into the Mesozoic sea, which washed its 
coast and stretched away eastward to join the Mesozoic ocean, which sub- 
merged the central portions of the North Amei-ican continent. The Arizona 
coast trended northwestward. The Great Basin coast trended southwest- 
ward, and the two, if sufficiently prolonged, would meet somewhere in 
Southern Nevada. But of the localities near this imaginary junction we 
know almost nothing geologically. 

Eeverting now to -the distribution of the Mesozoic strata around the 
borders of the Grand Canon district, as explained in the preceding chap- 
ters, we find that they occupy the entire northern side and the entire 
eastern side and appear for a short distance upon the western side. The 
remaining portion of the periphery of the district is in greatest part and 
perhaps wholly a shore-line. Whatsoever extensions we assign to the 
edges of the Mesozoic, whether in the terraces or in the Echo Cliffs, are 
towards the original coast of the sea in which they were deposited ; and 
since we can find no reason for terminating them until we reach that coast 
we seem compelled to infer that they once covered the entire district. 

The second case would raise the question whether these beds may not 
have thinned out to a merely nominal volume or vanished entirely in their 
extensions over the denuded area. The answer to this is strongly adverse. 
We have just noted that these extensions are towards the shore and not 
away from it, while the directions in which strata attenuate are usually the 
reverse. Towards the coasts they thicken. We have already noted how 
the strata in the terraces decrease in volume towards the east and southeast, 
and as we travel along the Paria Plateau and the foot of the Echo Cliffs, 
we find that they have reached a minimum. But all this I have allowed 
for in estimating the average denudation of the Grand Canon platform. If 
they are below the average volume in the Echo Clifis, they are quite as 
much above it in the Valley of the Virgen. In connection with the possi- 
ble variations in the thickness it may be rem^-rked that one of the most 


striking' characteristics of the strata of the Plateau Country is the remark- 
able constancy of the character of eacli formation over vast expanses of 
country, and the extreme slowness with which their thickness varies from 
point to point. 

It still remains to inquire whether we are to assume this extension for 
the entire Mesozoic system, together with the Permian below and the Eocene 
above, or if it applies only to the older of these formations; for instance, 
the Permian and Trias. It may be replied that while the presumption is 
very strong in favor of the whole the weight of evidence varies with the 
different formations. In the case of the Permian it is conclusive. Innu- 
merable remnants of this formation are scattered over the Carboniferous 
platform, and the eye and mind carry the connection easily from one rem- 
nant to the other. In the Trias the outlying remnants are very few, yet 
these few are situated in such a manner that they leave no reasonable 
doubt; and the Trias carries the Jura with it. The two formations are so 
nearly co-extensive, and are so intimately associated that the very small 
difference in the distribution of their masses now i-emaining will not appre- 
ciably affect the conclusions to be drawn. So, too, of the Cretaceous. 
This series is wanting from some Triassic areas, but we should naturally 
expect the higher formation to be more eroded. No geologist would hesi- 
tate to restore it to those areas where the Trias is found, and yet when this 
is done it is impossible to see how the question of its further extension 
would differ from that of the Trias. 

The Eocene presents undeniably a somewhat greater difficulty; 
greater, however, in degree and not different in kind. This formation is 
found only on the northern side of the district and in the littoral belt. It 
is unknown in the great mesas which are bounded westward by the Echo 
Cliffs. We find it again only in New Mexico. But the wonder is, not that 
the Eocene is wanting from such vast areas, if it was deposited over them, 
but rather that so much of it remains. Still the main argument which has 
been applied to the other formations holds good when applied to this one. 
We cannot find any reason for terminating its former extension short of 
the ancient shore-line in Arizona; but the additional argument from out- 
lying remnants is no doubt weaker. It seems best, therefore, to regard 


the full extension of the Eocene as having a very high degree of proba- 
bility, but falling short of certainty. 

II. The foregoing argument is strongly sustained and supplemented 
by the displacements. If it be true that the Grand Canon district received 
between the close of the Carboniferous and the close of the local Eocene 
10,000 feet of deposits averaged over its entire surface, it follows that at 
the latter epoch the summit of the Carboniferous lay at least 10,000 feet 
below sea-level and was much more nearly horizontal than it is at present. 
And if such was its position and configuration, the great faults and dis- 
placements which traverse it must be of Tertiary age, and there must have 
been an enormous amount of uplifting, ranging from 12,000 to 18,000 feet, 
in various portions of the district. These are some of the consequences of 
the great denudation. If by independent evidence they shall appear to be 
true — to have really happened — the original inference will be much 
strengthened ; but if they fail, the original inference will be greatly dam- 
aged, if not exploded. For it may be remarked that every true deduction 
runs ofi" into important consequences, and (in geological reasoning, at all 
events) derives its strongest support from its congruity with a vast system 
of facts. We shall soon find by independent evidence that the inference 
of the great denudation agrees rigorously with the above mentioned con- 

It is first necessary to find the configuration and position of the sea- 
bottom on which the Mesozoic sediments were deposited at each and every 
epoch of that age. This problem looks very large and formidable, but an 
approximate solution is right at hand. During the entire age the surface of 
deposition was always verj^ near the sea-level. The proof of this is 
abundant and clear. Throughout the entire Plateau Province the strata 
are all shallow water deposits. Fossil forests, ripple-marked shales, fre- 
quent unconformities by erosion without discrepancy of dip, cross-bedded 
sandstones, occasional retirements of the waters, all mark very shallow 
water in the Permian, Trias, and Jura; while coal, carbonaceous shales, 
abundant remains of land plants indicate the same for the Cretaceous. 
And, finally, the absence of all traces of appreciable displacement except 
along the coasts combines to prove that the Mesozoic beds were deposited 


with almost rigorous horizontality, and very nearly at sea-level, throughout 
the entire Mesozoic. This gives us at once a datum horizon of the best 
possible kind to which all subsequent displacements may be referred. 

Its advantage is at once apparent; for it will soon appear very clearly 
that the faults are all of Tertiary age. In estimating the entire displace- 
ment or differential movement involved in a fault, the follovt^ing difficulty 
arises. We are often at a loss to ascertain whether one side of the fault 
plane has been hfted or the other depressed, or even whether both sides 
may not have been uplifted or lowered, but one of them more than the 
other; the fault being merely the difference of two movements. But the 
moment we establish the origin of movement at any datum level, this 
problem for any particular fault is solved at once. The faults of the Grand 
Canon district are those which are due to the differences of upward move- 
ment on both sides of the fault planes. This statement is true in every 
instance, and is fully demonsti-ated. 

The next step is to find the amount and distribution of that part of 
the movement which is represented by the faults. This is done by depress- 
ing the upthrows until the edges of the faulted beds come together and the 
monoclines are smoothed out. If this be done, the sharp ledges and abrupt 
breaks in the topography produced by those displacements disappear. The 
final step is a little more difficult and complex, and it is necessary to de- 
scribe at some length one important feature of the district. 

If we examine the profile of the district from the Markagunt south- 
ward to the Grand Canon, and thence to the Aubrey Cliffs, we shall find 
that the strata all dip very slightly to the north. The amount of this dip 
is irregular in different parts of the profile, being for very short distances, 
and, in a few cases, as much as two and a half or even three degrees ; while 
there are long distances where the strata are strictly horizontal. On an 
average it is not far from forty minutes. But since its effect is cumulative 
over the entire distance of 130 to 180 miles, its importance is very great, 
for the Carboniferous beneath the Marktigunt lies below sea-level, while at 
the San Francisco Mountains it is nearly 8,000 feet above. The dips are 
strongest near the terraces, and it is very interesting to note the fact that at 


the base of each terrace cliff the incHnation becomes a maximum.* This 
^Dvolonged downward tilt towards the north must be borne in mind always 
in the attempted restoration of the platform to its original condition. 

Resuming the reconstruction, we begin at the Markagunt Plateau. 
Here we find brackish and fresh water beds of Eocene age between 10,000 
and 11,000 feet above the sea. To find their position at the beginning of 
Tertiary time we must in imagination depress them that amount This car- 
ries down the Carboniferous nearly 12,000 feet below sea level. The same 
treatment is applicable to the entire front of the terraces as far as the Kai- 
parowits and indefinitely beyond. So also along the line of the Echo Cliffs 
as far south as our knowledge extends, with, however, a notably diminished 
amount in that direction arrising from the smaller thickness of the Mesozoic 
strata. Turning to the littoral belt in the Pine Valley Mountains we must 
depress the country between 4,000 and 6,000 feet, but in a very irregular 
v>'ay, because this region is greatly disturbed. We must also carry on this 
treatment southward along the Grand Wash and Virgen Range (Atlas Sheet 
II) as far as the Colorado. Reducing the Grand Wash fault in conjunction 
with this imaginary depression we find that the Carboniferous at the mouth 
of the Grand Canon goes 10,000 feet below the sea. The entire western 
edge of the Sheavwits goes with it. Along the Echo Cliffs the depression 
of the same horizon would be 7,500 feet below the sea, and would carry 
with it the Marble Canon platform, by the reduction of the Echo Cliff 

Thus around the greater part of the periphery of the district the recon- 
struction depresses the Carboniferous 7,500 to 12,000 feet below the sea. 
That the whole Grand Canon platform follows it seems incontestable. Any 
other reconstruction would force upon us some unknown arbitrary configu- 
ration of the Carboniferous strata for which there is no evidence. It is in- 
admissible to suppose that flexures, faults, or broad distortions once existed 
thei'e which have subsequently been smoothed out or reset without leaving 
a single visible sign ; and any other reconstruction than the one here adopted 
would, it appears to me, involve just such assumptions. And they could 

* I cauuot refraiu from suggesting that this m<ay be due to the gross weight of the terraces them- 
selves. It seems analogous to the action of creeping in deep mines. The inferior beds might have 
risen higher, were it not for the sudden intcrvcutioii of these heavy masses of the terrace platforms. 


instantly be attacked by considerations arising from the evolution of the 
drainage system. 

It appears, then, that the Grand Canon district has undergone an enor- 
mous amount of upheaval during Tertiarj^ time. The minimum is nearly 
12,000 feet and the maximum is about 18,000 feet The present altitudes 
of the different portions of its surface mark the difference between the 
amount of uplift and the depth of denudation. In these respects the region 
presents quantities above the average of the western half of the United 
States and which are surpassed only by the great mountain platforms. Tlie 
inference of a great denudation might be traced to remoter consequences, 
and so far as I am able to do so I find indications of agreement with such 
facts as we know ; but knowledge becomes imperfect. 

III. The evolution of the drainage system of the region is a subject 
abounding in facts and inferences which group themselves most harmoni- 
ously with those already discussed. The origin of rivers has hitherto 
received too little attention from geologists, apparently because of the 
intrinsic difficulty which the subject offers in most regions. But it seems 
as if much more use could be made of it than has hitherto been done even 
in regions where there is more or less obscurity. There are certain propo- 
sitions regarding them which may read like truisms, yet which become 
extremely useful when followed out to their obvious consequences. The 
self-evident assertion that a river had a beginning implies a great deal. It 
implies that it originated and developed under the limitations of natural 
laws, and these laws we know. We are tempted to laugh at the assertion 
that water does not run up-hill. Yet it would be easy to point out many 
cases where vexed questions would have been solved if geologists had not 
forgotten it. 

In former writings I have laid stress upon propositions like the follow- 
ing: that the great rivers of a country are as a rule born with the country 
itself; that their courses were determined by the conditions prevailing at 
the time of their origin ; that their positions once established are (with cer- 
tain qualifications) immutable. From these propositions flow consequences 
of great importance. Thus when we find rivers flowing across or through 
mountain chains and plateaus we must infer that they are older than the 


structural deformations which they traverse; that the elevation of a plat- 
form across the track of a river rarely diverts it from its course, for the 
stream saws its bed into the rocks as fast as the obstacle rises. It would be 
impossible to point out a more complete illustration of these propositions 
than that which is supplied by the Colorado and its tributaries. 

We know that during the whole of Mesozoic time the watershed of the 
Colorado was submerged and that in Eocene time it was a great fresh- water 
lake In due time this lake was drained presumably by the cutting down 
of its outlet as the country rose. In this process may be discerned the origin 
of its drainage system; and we are bound to infer that every river then 
existing within it ran in conformit}' with the surface just exposed above the 
waters. To-day we find that surface greatly deformed by displacements 
and by erosion, and the courses of the rivers to be such as they could not 
have been if these inequalities and deformations were as old as the rivers. 
It would be an endless task and very burdensome both to the writer and to 
the reader to analyze the course of the Colorado and each of its tributaries 
to show their relations to the structural features. The subject may be sum- 
marized in the single statement that they are entirely independent of the 
structural features. They run in a majority of cases against the inclinations 
of the strata and against the topographical slopes. They cut through 
mountains and plateaus ; they enter cliffs, they emerge from them ; they 
enter the lifts of monoclines, they cross faults from the upthrow to the down- 
throw. They run here obliquely up or down the structural slopes, and 
there they course along the strike. 

There is one and onl}^ one way in which we can account for the present 
positions of these drainage channels. Confining ourselves to the Grrand Canon 
district (though the same generalization holds good for the entire watershed 
of the Colorado), we shall find a consistent explanation of the drainage prob- 
lem by assuming precisely what we have deduced from the discussion of the 
stratification and displacements; i. e., depressing the whole Grand Canon 
platform many thousands of feet and covei'ing it with the Mesozoic and 
Eocene beds in full volume, reducing at the same time all the faults and 
flexures until the Carboniferous becomes a smooth platform over the whole 


To apply this reconstruction to every drainage channel in detail 
would lead to an interminable discussion of the dryest and most repulsive 
kind. An example must suffice. Take the Marble Canon in its relations 
to the Glen Canon above it. The Colorado in the Glen Canon flows 
through 1 50 miles of Mesozoic strata, the walls being for the last 50 miles 
chiefly in the Cretaceous and Jura. At the foot of this chasm the river 
emerges through a gateway 2,400 deep upon the Marble Canon (Carbon- 
iferous) platform. Just as it approaches the end the Echo Cliff monocline 
turns up the entire stratigraphic system to the westward, with a displace- 
ment, the amount of which is not accurately known, but which exceeds 
certainly 3,000 feet. The age of this flexure is Tertiary, for it involves 
the Cretaceous beds and farther north involves the Tertiary. That the river 
at this point has cut through the entire Mesozoic and Permian, and proba- 
bly also the Eocene, is self-evident. Imagine now at a given epoch in the 
early Eocene the I'iver situated only a few hundred feet above sea-level, 
and all these beds lying beneath its trough. Imagine the monocline 
smoothed out This gives us the position of the Marble Canon platform 
at the stated epoch; viz, 7,500 to 8,000 feet below sea-level. To maintain 
the river we must restore that thickness of later strata. 

Let us suppose now that these strata thinned rapidly along the course 
of the Marble Canon. The supposition speedily raises difficulties. That 
would imply that the Carboniferous platform had a long upward tilt in that 
direction at a considerable angle, and that this tilt has since come back to 
approximate horizontality. Now in truth there is a tilt of this kind, but it 
amounts to less than one degree, and we may assume that it is con- 
genital so far as the river is concerned. If true it would not materially 
affect the conclusion. But the arbitrary assumption of a much greater tilt 
and its subsequent reduction without a trace of evidence is hardly an 
admissible argument. A still greater difficulty is encountered by applying 
the test to the Little Colorado, which joins the main river at the foot of the 
Marble Canon. This tributary has had the same kind of battles to fight in 
order to maintain its right of way as the Colorado itself. In no stream 
could the fact be clearer that it has cut through thousands of feet of strata, 
and we know pretty nearly how much. It flows northward to its junction 


to meet the Colorado flowing south. We must replace beneath it very 
nearly the same amount of Mesozoic beds as we put beneath the Colorado, 
otherwise we are left without resource. 

Here at the junction the main river turns westward and enters the 
ascending monocline of the Kaibab. The problem has the same aspect as 
at the Echo Cliffs, except that the displacements are increased and the 
consequent amounts of depression required to affect the restoration. The 
argument also is the same. At the axis of the Kaibab the displacements 
reach their maximum. West of this axis the depression required for the 
restoration diminishes as it passes successively each great fault. All along 
the way we may check the argument from the river by the arguments from 
the tributaries. The whole forms a system, and in the treatment and con- 
clusions here adopted everything is self-consistent, and no difficulties arise 
except those which are always inherent in an attempt to bring before the 
mind a picture of concrete facts whose relations are to be discussed. But 
if these can be grasped in their entirety the conclusions drawn from them 
will, I am confident, be deemed unassailable. 

I have thus endeavored to group together different categories of facts, 
in order to bring to the fullest possible tests the inference of the great 
denudation of the Grand Canon district. Any deduction if true at all 
must be true in all its consequences. In the evolution of a region all the 
great events are intimately associated, and their consequences reach out 
almost indefinitely. The evolution of the Grand Canon distinct involves 
many complex operations, and the dominant fact is the great erosion of its 
platfoi'm. Every other fact is intimately interwoven with it. In truth it 
is the major premise of the whole discussion, and we cannot therefore be 
too careful in scrutinizing the ground upon which it is based. Thus tested, 
the deduction presents the best possible evidence of verity, which is self-con- 
sistency, and coherence with all the facts to which it may be brought into 
relation. In the course of the argument some data have been anticipated, 
the evidence of which will appear in subsequent chapters — for example, the 
Tertiary age of the displacements. This and many other facts will appear 
in their proper places. 

It seems proper here to introduce a general consideration which will 


be employed from time to time in the explanation of some notable features 
of the region. 


In his popular narrative of Explorations of the Colorado River, Pow- 
ell has employed the above term to give precision to an idea which is of 
much importance in physical geology. The idea in some form or other 
has, no doubt, occurred to many geologists, but, so far as known to me, 
it had not before received such definite treatment nor been so fully and 
justly emphasized. It may be explained as follows. 

Whenever a smooth country lies at an altitude but little above the level 
of the sea, erosion proceeds at a rate so slow as to be merely nominal. 
The rivers cannot corrade their channels. Their declivities are very small, 
the velocities of their waters very feeble, and their transporting power is 
so much reduced that they can do no more than urge along the detritus 
brought into their troughs from highlands around their margins. Their 
transporting power is just equal to the load they have to carry, and there is no 
surplus energy left to wear away their bottoms. All that erosion can now 
do is to slowly carry off the soil formed on the slopes of mounds, banks, 
and hillocks, which faintly diversify the broad surrounding expanse. The 
erosion is at its base-level or very nearly so. An extreme case is the State 
of Florida. All regions are tending to base-levels of erosion, and if the 
time be long enough each region will, in its turn, approach nearer and 
nearer, and at last sensibly reach it. The approach, however, consists in 
an infinite series of approximations like the approach of a hyperbola to 
tangency with its asymptote. Thus far, however, there is the implied 
assumption that the region undergoes no change of altitude with reference 
to sea-level; that it is neither elevated nor depressed by subterranean forces. 
Many regions do remain without such vertical movements through a long- 
succession of geological periods. But the greater portion of the existing 
land of the globe, so far as is known, has been subject to repeated throes 
of elevation or depression. Such a change, if of notable amount, at length 
destroys the pre-existing relation of a region to its base-level of erosion. 


If it is depressed it becomes immediately an area of deposition. If it is 
elevated new energy is imparted to the agents and machinery of erosion. 
The declivities of the streams are increased, giving an excess of transport- 
ing power which sweeps the channels clear of ddbris; corrasion begins; 
new topographical features are literally carved out of the land in high relief; 
long rapid slopes or cliffs are generated and vigorously attacked by the de- 
stroying agents; and the degradation of the country proceeds with energy. 

It is not necessar}^ that a base-level of erosion should lie at extremely 
low altitudes. Thus a large interior basin drained by a trunk river, across 
the lower portions of which a barrier is slowly rising, is a case in point. 
For a time the river is tasked to cut down its barrier as rapidly as it rises. 
This occasions slackwater in the courses above the barrier and stops cor- 
rasion, producing temporarily a local base-level. Another case is the Great 
Basin of Nevada. It has no outlet, because its streams sink in the sand or 
evaporate from salinas. Its valley bottoms are rather below base-level than 
above it. The general result of causes tending to bring a region to an 
approximate base-level of erosion is the obliteration of its inequalities. 

During the progress of the great denudation of the Grand Canon dis- 
trict the indications are abundant that its interior spaces have occupied for 
a time the relation of an approximate base-level of erosion. Throughout 
almost the entire stretch of Tertiary and Quaternary time the region has 
been rising, and in the aggregate the elevation has become immense, vary- 
ing from 11,000 to 18,000 feet in diflPerent portions. But it seems that the 
movement has not been at a uniform rate. It appears to have proceeded 
through alternations of activity and repose. Whether we can point to 
more than one period of quiescence may be somewhat doubtful, but we 
can point decisively to one. It occurred pi'obably in late Miocene or early 
Pliocene time, and while it prevailed the great Carboniferous platform 
was denuded of most of its inequalities, and was planed down to a very 
flat expanse. Since that period the relation has been destroyed by a gen- 
eral upheaval of the entire region several thousands of feet. The indica- 
tions of this will appear when we come to the study of the interior spaces 
of the Grand Canon district and of the Grand Canon itself To this study 
we now proceed. 



From Kanab to Pipe Spring— Crossing tie desert— Tlie Permian Cliffs— Desert vegetation— Ttie Wild 
Band water-pockets— Scenery upon tlie desert platform— Distant views of tlie terrace cliffs and the 
volcanoes of the Uiukaret— The Wousits Valley— Basaltic lavas and cinder cones of the Uinkarct— 
The head of the Toroweap Valley— Descent of the valley— Distant view of the caiion wall— 
The Witches' -water-pocket.— The walls of the Toroweap, with their pinnacles, amphitheaters, 
and alcoves— The Toroweap fault— Lava cascades descending from the Uinkaret— Gigantic archi- 
tecture—The opening of the valley into the main chasm— The great esplanade- The inner gorge- 
Divisions of the Carboniferous system exposed in the chasm— Grandeur of the scenery and system- 
atic character of the profiles— Vulcan's Throne— Views up and down the main chasm- The view 
up the Toroweap— The fault and its visible details— Age of the dislocation— View of the basaltic 
cones of the Uinkaret and of the lava cascades— View across the gorge— Euined crater on the 
brink— Dykes in the canon wall— Recency of the excavation of the inner gorge and the rapidity of 
its excavation— Descent of the inner chasm wall to the river— View of the canon below— Great cor- 
rasive power of the river— Significance of the Toroweap Valley— It is the vestige of ancient drain- 
age—The excavation of the chasm is the work performed under an arid climate— The age of the 
entire chasm is comparatively recent with a probable beginning near the close of the Miocene. 

The present chapter will contain an account of a journey from the vil- 
lage Kanab to the Toroweap Vallej^ and a description of the middle portion 
of the Grand Canon. Kanab is the usual rallying place and base of opera- 
tions of the survey in these parts, being located on the only living stream 
between the Virgen and the Paria. 

The first stage of the journey from Kanab to Pipe Spring is an easy 
one. It leads southwestward to a gap cut through the low Permian terrace 
and out into the open desert beyond. The road, well traveled and easy, 
then turns westward and at length reaches the spring twenty miles from 
Kanab Pipe Spring is situated at the foot of the southernmost promon- 
tory of the Vermilion Cliffs, and is famous throughout southern Utah as a 
watering place. Its flow is copious and its water is the purest and best 
throughout that desolate region. Ten years ago the desert spaces out- 
spreading to the southward were covered with abundant grasses, affording 



rich pasturage to horses and cattle. To-day hardly a blade of grass is to 
be found within ten miles of the spring, unless upon the crags and mesas 
of the Vermilion Cliffs behind it. The horses and cattle have disappeared, 
and the bones of many of the latter are bleached upon the plains in front 
of it. The cause of the failure of pasturage is twofold. There is little 
doubt that during the last ten or twelve years the climate of the surround- 
ing country has grown more arid. The occasional summer showers which 
kept the grasses alive seldom come now, and through the long summer and 
autumn droughts the grasses perished even to their roots before they had 
time to seed. All of them belong to varieties which reproduce from seed, 
and whose roots live but three or four years. Even if there had been no 
drought the feeding of cattle would have impoverished and perhaps wholly 
destroj^ed the grass by cropping it clean before the seeds were mature, as 
has been the case very generally throughout Utah and Nevada. 

Northeastward the Vermilion Cliffs extend in endless perspective 
towards Kanab, and beyond to the Paria. Northwestward, with growing 
magnitude, they extend towards the Virgen, ever forming a mighty back- 
ground to the picture. To the southward stretches the desert, blank, life- 
less, and as expressionless as the sea. For five or six miles south of the 
Pipe Spring promontory there is a gentle descending slope, mid thence 
onward the surface feebly ascends through a distance of thirty miles to the 
brink of the Grand Canon. Thus the range of vision is wide, for we over- 
look a gentle depression of great extent. Though the general impression 
conveyed is that of a smooth or slightly modulated country, yet we com- 
mand a far greater expanse than would be possible among the prairies. 
To the southeastward the Kaibab looms up, seemingly at no great distance, 
and to the southwestward the flat roof of Mount Trumbull is more than a 
blue cloud in the horizon. Towards this latter mountain we take a straight 
course. The first few miles lie across drifting sands bare of all vegetation. 
The air is like a furnace, but so long as the water holds out the heat is not 
enervating and brings no lassitude. Everything is calm and still, except 
here and there a hot whirling blast, which sends up a tall, slender column 
of dust, dill'using itself in the air. At a slow pace, the sand-hills at length 
are passed and we enter upon a hard, firm soil, over which we move more 


rapidly. Just here, and for three or four miles in either direction, the Per- 
mian terrace has been obliterated. It has been beveled off by erosion and 
buried beneath the wash brought down from the foot of the Vermilion 
Cliffs to the northward. But seven miles from Pipe Spring, the Permian 
terrace springs up out of the earth, scarped by its characteristic cliff. 
Stretching northwestward it increases in altitude, becoming at last 800 to 
1,000 feet high. At its summit is seen the Shinarump conglomerate, of a 
pale brown color, and beneath are the gorgeous hues of the shales. Noth- 
ing can surpass the dense, rich, and almost cloying splendor of the red- 
brown seen in these shales. They suggest the color of old mahogany, but 
are much moi'e luminous and quite uniform. Under them are belts of 
chocolate, slate, lavender, pale Indian red, and white. Very wonderful, too, 
is the evenness of the bedding, which is brought out in great clearness and 
sharpness by the etching of minute layers of clays holding selenite. 
Between the shales and overlying conglomerate careful scrutiny enables us 
to detect an unconformity by erosion without any unconformity of dip. As 
stated in a preceding chapter, Mr, Walcott fixed provisionally the separat- 
ing horizon between the Permian and Trias at this unconformable contact. 

Along the route the vegetation is scanty indeed. Several forms of cac- 
tus are seen looking ver}^ diseased and mangy, and remnants of low desert 
shrubs browsed to death by cattle. Yet, strangely enough, there is one 
plant and one alone that seems to flourish. It is the common sunflower, 
found anywhere from Maine to Arizona, and seeming indifferent to the vicis- 
situdes of climate. 

About ! 8 miles from Pipe Spring the trail leads gently down into a 
broad shallow valley known as the Wild Band pockets. The drainage from 
the fronts of the Permian Cliffs, now far to the northward, here collects into 
a gulch, which gradually deepens and becomes a tributary of Kanab Canon. 
In every stream-bed may be found many depressions which would hold 
water even though the sources of supply were cut oft'. This is as true of 
wet-weather channels as of perennial streams. After the infrequent show- 
ers, aiid after the surface waters have ceased to run, the bed of the stream 
will still retain pools of water, provided the bottom of it is of a consistency 
which will prevent it from filtering away. To these pools the people of the 


west have given the name of " water-pockets." They are very common in 
the stream-beds which bear away the wash from the Permian and lower 
Triassic shales. These shales yield a very fine impervious clay, which 
forms an excellent " puddhng" for water holes and basins. The Wild Band 
pockets have received their name from the fact that they are the resort of 
bands of wild horses that roam over these deserts, far from human haunts, 
ranging from spring to spring, which they visit by stealth only at night, and 
never so long as they can find chance water in these and other pockets. 
Beyond the Wild Band Valley there is a shght ascent to a rocky platform, 
consisting of the summit beds of the Carboniferous. In the course of 20 
miles we have crossed the entire Permian series, which now lies to the north 
of us. A few stunted cedars, most of which are dead or dying of drought, 
are scattered over this platform and give us until nightfall some slight shel- 
ter from the sun. It is as good a camping place as we are likely to find, 
and if we are fortunate enough to reach it after a copious shower, the hol- 
lows and basins in the flat rocks may contain a scanty supply of clear rain- 
water. It is a good locality, also, from which we may overlook the out- 
spreading desert, which is not without charms, however repulsive in most 

To the northward rises the low escarpment of the Permian, forming a 
color picture which is somewhat indistinct through distance, but weird be- 
cause of its strange colors and still stranger forms. Beyond and in the far 
distance .rise the towering fronts of the Vermilion Glifi"s, ablaze with red 
light from the sinking sun. To the eastward they stretch into illimitable 
distance, growing paler but more refined in color until the last visible prom- 
ontory seems to merge its purple into the azure of the evening sky. Across 
the whole eastern quarter of the horizon stretches the long level summit of 
the Kaibab as straight and unbroken as the rim of the ocean. To the 
southwestward rises the basaltic plateau of Mount Trumbull, now present- 
ing itself with somewhat imposing proportions. Around it a great multi- 
tude of basaltic cinder cones toss up their ominous black waves almost as 
high as Trumbull itself Their tumultuous profiles and gloomy shades form 
a sharp contrast with the rectilinear outlines and vivid colors of the region 

6 G C 


At dawn we moved onward, reaching soon the summit of a hill which 
descends two or three hundred feet to a broad flat depression called the 
Wonsits Plain. It is a ver}^ barren and smooth expanse, dotted with a few 
moldering buttes of Upper Carboniferous rocks, now wasted to their foun- 
dations. The plain is about seven miles in width, and on the further side 
rises a low mesa of great extent capped with basalt. It is the Uinkaret. 
Beyond the nearer throng of basaltic cones Mount Trumbull rises with a 
striking aspect dominating strongly the entire western landscape. The 
smaller cones are now seen to be very numerous, and all of them are ap- 
parently perfect in form, as if time had wrought no great ravage among 
them. The lapilli and peperino, with which they are covered, have become 
dull red by the oxidation of the iron, and this peculiar color is easily recog- 
nized though the cones are still far away. Just before reaching the basaltic 
mesa we must make our choice between two routes to the Toroweap, one 
direct, the other very circuitous. No spring is to be found until we reach 
the further side of Mount Trumbull, but we know of a large water-pocket 
on this side, which has never been known to dry up. The spring water is 
sure to be good, but the water in the pocket will depend for its quality upon 
the length of time which has passed since the last heavy rain. Let us here 
choose the shorter one, and go to the water-pocket. 

Ascending the mesa, which rises abruptly about 200 feet above the 
Wonsits Plain, we find ourselves at once upon the basalt. The ground is 
paved with cinders and fragments half buried in soil, the debris of decaying 
lava sheets. These sheets are rarely of any great thickness, seldom ex- 
ceeding 30 or 40 feet, and often much less, and none of the individual erup- 
tions of lava seem to have covered any very great expanse. Probabl}^ the 
area covered by the largest would be less than a square mile. They sliow 
no perceptible differences in composition or texture, and all are basalts of 
the most typical vai-iet}^— very black and ferruginous in the unweathered 
specimens and speckled with abundant olivine. At the time of eruption 
they appear to have been in a state of perfect liquidity, spreading out very 
thin and flowing rapidly and with ease. In none of them has erosion 
wrought much havoc, though here and thei'e some local destruction has 
been effected, most conspicuously upon the edges of the principal mesa 


wliere the sheets have been undermined and their fragments scattered upon 
the plain below. The cones, which stand thick around us, are still in good 
preservation. They are of ordinary composition — mere piles of cinders 
thrown out of central vents and dropping around it. The fume and froth 
of the lava surfaces, the spongy inflated blocks, the lapilli and peperino, 
are not greatly changed, though all of them here show the oxidation of the 
iron. We wonder what their age may be ; what time has elapsed since 
they vomited fire and steam. But there is no clew — no natural record by 
which such events can be calendared. Historically, they have doubtless 
stood in perfect repose for very many centuries. Not a trace of activity of 
any kind is visible, and they are as perfectly quiescent as the dead volca- 
noes of the Auvergne or of Scotland. Greologically, they are extremely 
recent ; yet even here where historic antiquity merges into geologic recency 
the one gives us no measure of the other. 

Following a course which winds among the silent cones and over 
rough, flat surfaces of lava beds half buried in drifting sands, we at 
length reach the border of a slight depression, into which we descend. 
It is hardly noteworthy as a valley just here, and might be confounded 
with any one of the innumerable shallow water courses which occur round 
about; only when we look beyond we see it growing broader and much 
deeper. It is the head of the Toroweap. Upon its smooth bottom is a 
soft clayey soil, in which desert shrubs and stunted sage-brush grow in 
some abundance. Here and there a cedar, dwarfed indeed, but yet alive, 
displays a welcome green, and upon the valley slopes are a few sprays of 
grass. The valley bottom descends at a noticeable rate to the southward, 
and as we put the miles behind us we find the banks on either side rising 
in height, becoming steeper, and at last displaying rocky ledges. In the 
course of six or seven miles the left side has become a wall 700 feet high, 
while the other side, somewhat lower, is much broken and craggy. Huge 
piles of basalt lie upon the mesa beyond, sheet upon sheet, culminating in 
a cluster of large cones. At length the course of the valley slightly 
deflects to the left, and as we clear a shoulder of the eastern wall, which 
has hitherto masked its continuation, a grand vista breaks upon the sight. 
The valley stretches away to the southward, ever expanding in width; the 


walls on either side increase in altitude, and asume profiles of wonderful 
grace and nobility. Far in the distance they betoken a majesty and grand- 
eur quite unlike anything hitherto seen. With vast proportions are com- 
bined simplicity, symmetry, and grace, and an architectural effect as precise 
and definite as any to be found in the terraces. And yet these walls differ 
in style from the Trias and Jura as much as the Trias and Jura differ from 
each other. In the background the vista terminates at a mighty palisade, 
stretching directly across the axis of vision. Though more than 20 miles 
distant it reveals to us suggestions of grandeur which awaken feelings of 
awe. We know instinctively that it is a portion of the wall of the Grand 

The western side of the valley is here broken down into a long slope 
descending from the cones clustered around the base of Mount Trumbull, 
and is covered with broad flows of basalt. Turning out of the valley we 
ascend the lava bed, which has a very moderate slope, and about a mile 
from the valley we find the Witches' Water Pocket. In every desert the 
watering places are memorable, and this one is no exception. It is a weird 
spot. Around it are the desolate Phlegrsean fields, where jagged masses 
of black lava still protrude through rusty, decaying cinders. Patches of 
soil, thin and coarse, sustain groves of cedar and pinon. Beyond and above 
are groups of cones, looking as if they might at any day break forth in 
renewed eruption, and over all rises the tabular mass of Mount Trumbull. 
Upon its summit are seen the yellow pines (P. ponderosa), betokening a 
cooler and a moister clime. The pool itself might well be deemed the 
abode of witches. A channel half-a-dozen yards deep and twice as wide, 
has been scoured in the basalt by spasmodic streams, which run during the 
vernal rains. Such a stream cascading into it has worn out of the solid 
lava a pool twenty feet long, nearly as wide, and five or six feet deep. 
Every flood fills it with water, which is good enough when recent, but 
horrible when old. Here, then, we camp for the night. 

Filling the kegs at daylight, we descend again into the Toroweap and 
move southward. Our attention is strongly attracted by the wall upon the 
eastern side. Steadily it increases its mass and proportions. Soon it be- 
comes evident that its profile is remarkably constant. We did not notice 












this at first, for we saw in the upper valley only the summit of the palisade; 
but as the valley cuts deeper in the earth the plan and system begin to 
unfold. At the summit is a vertical ledge, next beneath a long Mansard 
slope, then a broad plinth, and last, and greater than all, a long, sweeping 
curve, gradually descending to the plain below. Just opposite to us the 
pediments seem half buried, or rather half risen out of the valley alluvium. 
But beyond they rise higher and higher until in the far distance the profile 
is complete. In this escarpment are excavated alcoves with openings a 
mile wide. As soon as we reach the first one, new features appear. The 
upper ledge suddenly breaks out into a wealth of pinnacles and statues 
standing in thick ranks. They must be from 100 to 250 feet high, but now 
the height of the wall is more than a thousand feet, and they do not seem 
colossal. Indeed, they look like a mere band of intricate fretwoi'k — a line 
of balustrade on the summit of a noble facade. Between the alcoves the 
projecting pediments present gable-ends towards the valley-plain. Yet 
whithersoever the curtain wall extends the same profile greets the eyes. 
The architect has adhered to his design as consistently and persistently as 
the builders of the Thebaid or of the Acropolis. As we pass alcove after 
alcove, and pediment after pediment, they grow loftier, wider, and deeper, 
and the decoration becomes more ornate. At length we pass one which is 
vast indeed. It is recessed back from the main front three-fourths of a mile, 
and shows three sides of an oblong room with walls 1,800 feet in height. 
The fourth side is obliterated and the space opens into the broad valley. 
Wonderfully rich and profuse are the pinnacles and statues along the upper 
friezes. The fancy is kindled as the eye wanders through the inclosure. 
We look across the valley, which is here three miles in width, and 
behold the other wall, which presents an aspect wholly different, but quite 
as interesting. The western wall of the Toroweap is here lower than the 
eastern, but still is more than a thousand feet high. The geologist soon sur- 
mises that along the valley bottom runs a fault which drops the country on 
the west several hundred feet, and the conjecture soon becomes certainty. 
■ Above and beyond the western escarpment is the platform of the Uinkaret 
Plateau. Upon its summit is a throng of large basaltic cones in perfect 
preservation. Streams of lava larger than any hitherto seen have poured 


from their vents, flooding many a square mile of mesa land, and in the 
wide alcoves they have reached the brink of the wall and cascaded over it. 
Still pouring- down the long taluses they have reached the valley bottom 
below and spread out in wide fields, disappearing underneath the clayey 
alluvium, which has buried much of their lower portions. The appearance 
of these old lava cascades, a mile or more wide, a thousand feet high, and 
black as Erebus, is striking in the extreme. There are five of these basaltic 
cataracts, each consisting of many individual coulees. Between them the 
bold pediments of brightly-colored Carboniferous strata jut out into the 

At length we approach the lower end of the Toroweap. The scenery 
here becomes colossal. Its magnitude is by no means its most imjDressive 
feature, but precision of the forms. The dominant idea ever before the 
mind is the architecture displayed in the profiles. It is hard to realize that 
this is the work of the blind forces of nature. We feel like mere insects crawl- 
ing along the street of a city flanked with immense temples, or as Lemuel 
Gulliver might have felt in revisiting the capital of Brobdingnag, and find- 
ing it deserted. At the foot of the valle}^ the western wall is nearly ] ,500 
feet high, the eastern about 2,000, and the interval separating them is about 
three miles. Suddenly they turn at right angles to right and left, and 
become the upper wall of the Grand Canon of the Colorado. The Toro- 
weap now opens into the main passageway of the great chasm. The view, 
however, is much obstructed. At the foot of the eastern gable is a medley 
of rocky ledges of red sandstone, while around the base of the western 
gable are large masses of basalt reaching more than half-way across the 
valley. In front rises a crater, which is about 600 feet high, seemingly a 
mere knoll in the midst of this colossal scener}^ Beyond it, and five miles 
distant, rises the palisade which forms the southern upper wall of the chasm, 
stretching athwart the line of vision interminably in either direction. Its 
altitude is apparently the same as that of the palisade above us, and its 
profile is also identical. Climbing among the rocky ledges which lie at the 
base of the escarpment, we at length obtain a stand-point which enables 
us to gain a preliminary view of the mighty avenue To the eastward it 
stretches in vanishing perspective forty miles or more. Between S3-mmetric 






walls 2,000 feet hig-h and 5 miles apart is a plain, which in comparison with 
its limiting cliffs might be regarded as smooth, but which in reality is 
diversified by rocky hummocks and basins, and hillocks where patches of 
soil give life to scattered cedars and pinons. Of the inner chasm nothing 
as yet is to be seen. Moving outward into this platform we find its surface 
to be mostly bare rock, with broad shallow basins etched in them, which 
hold water after the showers. There are thousands of these pools, and 
when the showers have passed they gleam and glitter in the sun like innu- 
merable mirrors. As we move outward towards the center of the grand 
avenue the immensity and beautiful proportions of the walls develop The 
vista towards the east lengthens out and vanishes against the blue ramp of 
the Kaibab, wliich lies as a cloud upon the horizon. To the Avest the view 
is less symmetric and regular, and the eye wanders vaguely among clifls 
and buttes of stupendous magnitude, displaying everywhere the profile 
with which we have become of late familiar. Much of the distance towards 
the west is obstructed by the crater, but the portions in view bewilder us 
by the great number of objects presented, and oppress us by their magni- 
tudes. At a distance of about two miles from the base of the northern wall 
we come suddenly upon the inner chasm. We are not conscious of its prox- 
imity until we are within a few yards of it. In less than a minute after we 
have recognized the crest of the farther wall of this abyss we crane over 
its terrible brink and gaze upon the water of the river full 3,000 feet below. 
The scene before us is a type of the Grand Canon tln-oughout those 
portions which extend through the Kanab, Uinkaret, and Sheavwits Plat- 
eaus. The plan and section here presented are quite simple. They con- 
sist of a broad upper chasm from five to six miles in Avidth with walls vary- 
ing in altitude but little from 2,000 feet. Between these escarpments is a 
rocky plain, rougli indeed, but in the overpowering presence of such walls 
seeming relatively smooth and uniform In this floor is cut the inner chasm 
3,000 feet deep and from 3,500 to 4,000 feet wide from crest to crest. The 
true profiles will be best understood by consulting the diagram (Fig. 1 ), which 
is drawn to scale. The strata in which the chasm is excavated are all of Car- 
boniferous age excepting three or four hundred feet at the bottom of the 
gorge. The strata beneath the Carboniferous are at present believed to be 


lower Silurian, and their contact with the Carboniferous is unconformable, 
both by dip and by erosion. In the upper part of the palisades which form 
the wall of the upper chasm we find at the summit two series of limestones. 
The upper contains an abundance of siliceous matter, one portion of which 
is intimately disseminated through the mass while another portion is aggre- 
gated into myi'iads of cherty nodules varying- from two to ten inches in 
diameter. The lower one is a purer limestone with few nodules. The 
cherty members form a nearly vertical band at the summit of the wall; the 
purer members form a Mansard slope beneath, covered with talus. The total 
thickness of the limestones is about 700 to 750 feet. Beneath them come 
sandstones a little more than 250 feet thick, which form everywhere a ver- 
tical plinth or frieze. They are very adamantine in texture, and one of the 
members, about 180 feet thick, is in every exposure seen to be uniformly 
cross-bedded. Under the cross-bedded sandstone is a mass of thinly bedded 
and almost shaly sandstones, having an aggregate thickness very closely 
approximating to 1,000 feet. They are of an intensely brilliant red color, 
but are, in greatest part, covered with a heavy talus of imperishable cherty 
nodules, fragments of the cross -bedded sandstones, and spalls of limestone 
shot down from above. The color of these is pale gray, with occasionally 
a yellowish or creamy tinge. The brilliant red sandstones form the long 
curved slope which descends from the plinth of cross-bedded sandstone to 
the plain below. 

The walls of the inner gorge have at the summit about 325 feet of hard 
sandstone of a brown-red color. Beneath the sandstone are about 1,800 
feet of impm-e limestone in layers of the most massive description Very 

Fig. 1. — Section of the Grand Cauon at the foot of the Toroweap Valley. 1. Ujiper Aubrey; 2. Lower Aubrey; 3. Red 
Wall; 4. Base of the Carbonifei'ous ; 5. Lower Silurian and Archfean unconformable. Scale one mile to the inch. 

few such ponderous beds of limestone are found in any part of the woi'ld. 
The color is deep red with a purplish tone, but the brilliancy of the color- 


ing is notably weakened by weathering. Still lower are red-brown sand- 
stones again, having a dark and sti'ong shade and lying in very massive 
beds. Tlie strata forming the walls of the outer chasm from the summit to 
the plain below are designated the Aubrej^ gi'oup, and this is again subdi- 
vided at the base of the cross-bedded plinth into upper and lower Aubrey 
groiips. The two subdivisions are believed to be the equivalents, in age, 
of the coal measures of Pennsylvania and England. The strata disclosed 
in the inner gorge correspond in age to the lower Carboniferous of those 
countries, and are here termed the Red Wall group. Some uncertainty 
exists regarding the beds which lie at the base of the conformable series 
deep down in the chasm, but they are regarded at present as being just 
what they seem and just what thej^ would naturally be inferred to be — a 
part of the Carboniferous system. Of the strata at the bottom of the canon, 
we shall have more to say hereafter. They are regarded at present as being 
of lower Silurian or Primordial age. 

The observer who, unfamiliar with plateau scenery, stands for the first 
time upon the brink of the inner gorge, is almost sure to view his surround- 
ings with commingled feelings of disappointment and perplexity. The 
fame of the chasm of the Colorado is great ; but so indefinite and meager 
have been the descriptions of it that the imagination is left to its own de- 
vices in framing a mental conception of it And such subjective i^ictures 
are of course wide of the truth. When he first visits it the preconceived 
notion is at once dissipated and the mind is slow to receive a new one. The 
creations of his own fancy no doubt are clothed with a vague grandeur and 
beauty, but not with the grandeur and beauty of Nature. When the reality 
is before him the impression bears some analogy to that produced upon the 
visitor who for the first time enters St. Peter's Church at Rome. He expected 
to be profoundly awe-struck by the unexampled dimensions, and to feel ex- 
alted by the beauty of its proportions and decoration. He forgets that the 
human mind itself is of small capacity and receives its impressions slowly, 
by labored processes of comparison. So, too, at the brink of the chasm, 
there comes at first a feeling of disappointment ; it does not seem so grand 
as we expected. At length we strive to make comparisons. The river is 
clearly defined below, but it looks aboiit large enough to turn a village 


grist-mill ; yet we know it is a stream three or four hundred feet wide. Its 
surface looks as motionless as a lake seen from a distant mountain-top. We 
know it is a rushing torrent. The ear is strained to hear the roar of its 
waters and catches it faintly at intervals as the eddying breezes waft it up- 
wards; but the sound seems exhausted by the distance. We perceive dimly 
a mottling of light and shadow upon the surface of the stream, and the 
flecks move with a barely perceptible cloud-like motion. They are the 
fields of white foam lashed up at the foot of some cataract and sailing 
swiftly onward. 

Perhaps the first notion of the reality is gained when we look across 
the abyss to the opposite crest-line. It seems as if a strong, nervous arm 
could hurl a stone against the opposing wall-face ; but in a moment we 
catch sight of vegetation growing upon the very brink. There are trees in 
scattered groves which we might at first have mistaken for sage or desert 
furze. Here at length we have a stadium or standard of comparison which 
serves for the mind much the same purpose as a man standing at the base 
of one of the sequoias of the Mariposa grove. And now the real magni- 
tudes begin to unfold themselves, and as the attention is held firmly the 
mind grows restive under the increasing burden. Every time the eye 
ranges up or down its face it seems more distant and more vast. At length 
we recoil, ovei'burdered with the perceptions already attained and yet half 
vexed at the inadequacy of our faculties to comprehend more. 

The magnitude of the chasm, however, is by no means the most im- 
pressive element of its character ; nor is the inner gorge the most impressive 
of its constituent parts. The thoughtful mind is far more deeply moved by 
the splendor and grace of Nature's architecture. Forms so new to the 
culture of civilized races and so strongly contrasted with those which have 
been the ideals of thirty generations of white men cannot indeed be appre- 
ciated after the study of a single hour or day. The first conception of them 
may not be a pleasing one. They may seem merely abnormal, curious, 
and even grotesque. But he who fancies that Nature lias exhausted her 
wealth of beauty in other lands strangely underestimates her versatility and 
power. In this far-off desert are forms which surprise us by their unaccus- 
tomed character. We find at first no place for them in the range of our 


conventional notions. But as they become familiar we find them appealing 
to the sesthetic sense as powerfully as any scenery that ever invited the 
pencil of Claude or of Turner. 

The inner gorge, as we sit upon its brink, is indeed a mighty spectacle; 
but as we withdraw a little it fades out of view, and, strangely enough, 
the sublimity of the scene Is not very greatly impaired. It is, after all, a 
mere detail, and the outer chasm is the all-engrossing feature. On either 
side its palisades stretch away to the horizon. Their fronts wander in and 
out, here throwing out a gable, there receding into a chamber, or gaping 
widely to admit the entrance of a lateral chasm. The profile is ever the 
same. It has nothing in common with the formless, chaotic crags, which 
are only big and rough, but is definite, graceful, architectural, and system- 
atic. The width of the space inclosed between the upper walls is one of 
the most essential elements of the grandeur. It varies from five to six 
miles. If it were narrower the efi"ect would be impaired; nor could it be 
much wider without diluting and weakening the general efiiect. This pro- 
portion seems quite just. It is a common notion that the distinctive and 
overruling feature of the great chasm is its narrowness relatively to its 
depth. No greater mistake could be made. Our highest conceptions of 
grandeur are most fully realized when we can see the greatest mass. We 
must have amplitude in all of the three dimensions, length, breadth, and 
depth, and that spectacle is in point of magnitude the grandest which has 
the three dimensions so proportioned and combined as to make the most of 
them. Another common and mistaken idea is that the chasm is pervaded 
by a deep, solemn gloom. The truth is almost the reverse. In the depths 
of the inner g'orge there is a suggestion of gloom, but even in the narrower 
portions there Is seldom less than sixty degrees of sky from crest to crest, 
and a hundred and sixty along the track of the river. In the outer chasm 
the scene is unusually bright. The upper half of the palisades has a pale, 
ashy, or pearl-gray color, which is very lustrous, and this sometimes gives 
place to a creamy or Naples yellow tint in the frieze of cross-bedded sand- 
stone. The lower Aubrey sandstones are bright-red, but they are in great 
part masked by the talus shot down from the pale-gray limestones above, 
.•md peep out In lustrous spots where the curtain of the talus Is drawn aside. 


There is nothing gloomy about such colors. Under a burning sun that is 
rarely clouded they have a brilliancy seldom seen in any rocks, and only 
surpassed by the sugary whiteness of the Jurassic sandstone or the brilliant 
red of the Vermilion Cliffs. 

Directly in the southward prolongation of the axis of the Toroweap 
Valley there stands a basaltic cinder cone immediately upon the brink of 
the inner gorge. Its altitude above the surrounding plain is fi 80 feet. The 
summit is readily gained, and it is an admirable stand-point from which the 
entire panorama may be viewed. We named it Vulcan's Throne To the 
eastward about forty miles of the main chasm are well in view. The alti- 
tude of the cone, though small in comparison with surrounding objects, is 
sufficient to bring into view about eight miles of the opening of the inner 
gorge, while in the foreground its depths are seen. To the westward the 
scenery is much more broken and diversified. The chasm is seen through 
the entire stretch in the Uinkaret Plateau and reaching a few miles into the 
Sheavwits. But about twenty miles westward it makes a southward turn 
and disappears. From the north the Toroweap Valley descends from near 
Mount Trumbull. It is cut down only to the base of the Upper Canon 
Wall and opens into the main chasm on the level of the plain above the 
inner gorge. There is reason to believe that at some prior epoch it was 
cut a few hundred feet deeper than its present floor, and was subsequently 
built up by many floods of basalt coming from the cones on the Uinkaret 
and by considerable quantities of alluvium washed from its clifts and over- 
looking mesas. On the south side of the Grand Canon is a valley quite the 
counterpart of the Toroweap. It enters the main chasm directly opposite 
to the Toroweap, so that the two form the arms of a transept, the main 
chasm being regarded as the nave. Vulcan's Throne is situated almost 
exactly at the intersection of the axes of nave and transept. 

It would be difficult to find anywhere else in the world a spot yielding 
so much subject-matter for the contemplation of the geologist; certainly 
there is none situated in the midst of such dramatic and inspiring surround- 
ings. The chasm itself, with its marvelous story of erosion, and the two 
lateral valleys adding their quotas of information are grand subjects indeed; 
but other themes are disclosed whicli are scarcely less surprising and sug- 


CKAND CANON 1>/STR/CT. PI., xrin. 



gestive. The cone stands immediately upon the line of a large fault ; and 
never was a fault and its consequences more clearly displayed. The 
Toroweap fault is one of six which at wide intervals traverse the Grand 
Canon district from north to south with a rude approximation to parallelism. 
It is the smallest of the six. Twenty miles north of the chasm no trace of 
it is visible. Its beginning there is small, but as it approaches the chasm it 
increases in the amount of displacement; and at the crossing of the river the 
shear or "throw" is between 600 and 700 feet. In the wall-face of the inner 
gorge it is disclosed a 3 clearly as a draughtsman could delineate it on paper. 
The masses of horizontal limestones and sandstones, displaying their fretted 
edges and lines of bedding, advance from the eastward in the face of the 
wall until they reach the vertical fault plane. Then they " break joints" 
and drop at once six or seven hundred feet, and continue westward as 
before, but at a lower level. The whole topography goes with it. Look- 
ing beyond to the upper wall of the outer chasm the "jog" where the break 
occurs is plainly seen. The whole platform of the country is dropped to 
the westward. The plain between the upper palisades or esplanade, as it 
will be hereafter termed, descends by a single step from east to west across 
the fault by an amount equal to the displacement, and the inner gorge and 
the whole chasm are correspondingly reduced in depth. 

Excepting the dislocation itself, the faulting does not appear to have 
been accompanied by an}" injury to the strata. Not a trace of shattering, 
crumbling, or mashing of the beds is discernible. All looks as clean and 
sharp as if it had been cut with a thin saw and the smooth faces pressed 
neatly together. But the only attainable view of it is from the distance of 
a mile; yet miles here are less than furlongs in other countries, and all 
details as well as broader features are upon the Brobdingnagian scale. 
What a nearer view might disclose is of course impossible to conjecture. 
The plane of the fault is about vertical, though there seems to be a slight 
inclination to the east, which may be apparent only and a result of per- 

After a careful study of the surroundings of the fault, it becomes appa- 
rent that it is of recent occurrence in comparison with other events which 
have been in progress here. The tenor of all evidence bearing upon the 


subject goes to show that these faiUts were not suddenly produced by vio- 
lent convulsions, but gradually developed through long stretches of time, 
and inch by inch or foot by foot. The Toroweap fault gives no evidence 
of being exceptional in this respect. Its recency is disclosed by many 
facts. It is seen that the amount of erosion in the face of the transverse 
"cliif of displacement" produced by the faulting is very small. This cliff 
has not receded from the fault plane to any considerable extent; yet 
the giant palisades which wall the outer chasm have receded from the 
median line of the canon more than two miles since the corrasion of the 
river laid bare the edges of their strata. It seems very plain that the outer 
chasm had been formed and attained very nearly its present condition 
before the fault started. But there is still more conclusive evidence of 
recency. At the foot of the southern palisade and at the jaws of the lateral 
valley are several basaltic craters. They look like mere bee-hives under 
the eaves of such an escarpment, though in truth they are four or five hun- 
dred feet high. From their vents streams of basalt are seen flowing down 
in the lateral valley across the fault plane, and clear to the brink of the 
inner abyss. The fault shears the lava floods as neatly as it does the Red 
"Wall limestone. Many other facts might be cited to the same purport, 
but this one is so conclusive that nothing further is necessary. We shall 
find similar evidences of recency when we come to the study of the great 
Hurricane fault. 

Another subject which will awaken the enthusiasm of the geologist 
who visits this unique spot is the volcanic phenomena. Turning to the 
northwestward he beholds the heights of the Uinkaret. Upon its broad 
expanse stand many basaltic craters in perfect preservation. We know of 
about a hundred and fifty distinct cones in this plateau, included in the 
space which lies between the Grand Canon and a limit forty miles north of 
it. But it is in the vicinity of the chasm that they cluster most thickly 
together and present the largest proportions. This part of the Uinkaret is 
thickly covered with basalt, above which rises the tumultuous throng of 
craters. Very many wide and deep floods of basalt have poured over the 
edge of the plateau into the lower Toroweap Valley and upon the great 
esplanade of the canon, 1,500 to 1,800 feet below, and, spi-eading out into 


wide fields, have reached the brink of the inner gorge. Pouring over its 
brink, the fiery cascades have shot down into the abyss and pursued their 
way many miles along the bed of the river. At one epoch they had built 
up the bed of the Colorado about 400 feet, but tlie river has scoured out 
its channel again and swept them all away, regaining its old level, and is 
now cutting the sandstones below. The spectacle of the lava floods descend- 
ing from the Uinkaret, as seen from Vulcan's Throne, is most imposing. 
It tells the story so plainly that a child could read and understand it. 
Compared with many classic volcanic regions the volcanism of the Uinkaret 
is a small affair. But in those classic regions the mind does not come into 
direct contact with the enormity of the facts by a single glance of the eye. 
But here, if kind Asmodeus were to lift the basaltic roof of the plateau, we 
should see no more than we do now. The boldness of the picture is much 
increased by the pediments of Carboniferous strata projecting from the 
body of the plateau, showing the brilhant colors of the strata and their 
sharply defined architecture, with the dark masses of basalt wrapping 
around them. Hard by, and almost within hail, is a superb gable project- 
ing between two broad floods of lava, and so beautifully proportioned and 
richly colored that we cannot help wishing to transport it by magic to some 
more habitable region. 

Turning now to the southward and looking across the inner gorge to 
its opposing wall, a strange spectacle of havoc and wreck is presented to 
our view. A lateral gorge or amphitheater is excavated in the chasm wall, 
very nearly as deep as the main abyss. Here the action of volcanic forces 
is displayed in a manner which is quite unique. At the summit of the wall 
of the inner gorge, just at the angle where it swings backward into the 
amphitheater, a ruined basaltic crater stands upon the very brink. Indeed 
its lower portions on two sides are undermined by the falling of the wall, 
and the anatomy of the cone is laid open to view. And not only that, but 
the very dike through which the lava canae up is disclosed to a depth of 
half a mile. There are also other dikes which sliow their edges in the 
wall of the amphitheater in transverse vertical section, and which outcrop 
in the main wall of the gorge (Fig. 2). The strike of these dikes is parallel 
to the river. One of them protrudes from the sloping front of the wall 



about 1,600 feet Lelow the summit; another protrudes about 1,200 feet be- 
low, and still another about 600 below the crest. A fourth dike appa- 
rently leads directly to the vent of the cone and no doubt constituted the 
pipe of the volcano. Now a brief scrutiny shows very conclusively that 
these dikes were made when the lateral gorge and main chasm had much 
less depth than that which they have now attained. It is manifestly impos- 
sible that a dike of basalt could rise hundreds or even two thousand feet 

Fig. 2. — Dikes in the wall of the inner gorge of the canon, as shown in transverse vertical sections in the wall of a lateral 

amphitheater. Toroweap. 

through solid limestone, with one edge of it protruding laterally out of the 
face of a scarp wall. And if the chasm had approximately its present 
depth the lava would surely have burst from the face of the wall at or near 
the bottom. In no way does it seem possible to account for them in their 
present positions and relations except by assuming that the depth and width 
of the gorge was then but a small fraction of the pi-esent dimensions. We 
know that basalts play curious jjranks sometimes, but they always keep 
within the limits of possibilities. On the other hand, the chasm must have 
had some notable depth, for in a few places are seen remnants of tufa beds 
descending from the cone over the crest of the side gorge and several hun- 
dred feet down into it. Where they occur the solid strata beneath them are 
not scarped, but are beveled off to a moderate slope, allowing the tufa beds 
to repose upon them at an angle of about 23°. These tufas, apparently, 
were formed in the usual manner about the vent by the fall of lapilli and 


fragments. It is clear that during the epoch of eruption a lateral valley had 
been excavated there ; otherwise, the tufa could not be resting upon the 

The depth of this valley was at least 500 to 600 feet. Between the 
dikes and the tufa, then, we find the limiting evidence which enables us to 
say very confidently that two-thirds to three-fourths of the present depth 
of the inner gorge has been excavated since the activity of that crater. As 
to the age of the crater itself, all that can be said is that it looks very recent. 
Except for the undermining of a considerable part of it by the recession of 
the great wall beneath, its preservation would be quite perfect. Still a 
nearer view might reveal evidences of antiquity which could not be dis- 
cerned when viewed across the chasm from Vulcan's Throne, at a distance 
of nearly two miles. But, in any event, there is one conclusion most deeply 
impressed upon the mind : that this great inner gorge, vast as it is, has been 
excavated in a period of time which, judged by the geological standard, has 
been very short. The work has been done with a rapidity much greater 
than might otherwise have been supposed. The processes which have been 
so exceptionally active here are two — 1st, corrasion, and 2d, the undermin- 
ing of the wall of the inner gorge. 

West of Vulcan's Throne there is a place where it is practicable to de- 
scend from the esplanade to the river. The way is difficult and at times 
well calculated to daunt the most active climber The wall is here much 
broken down and the vertical face has given place to a very steep slope. 
The descent is upon the cascade of lava which has flowed down the Toro- 
weap and poured into the abyss. Upon any ordinary rock the descent 
would be impracticable ; but the roughness of the basalt gives admirable 
foothold, and there is no difficulty of a serious nature in passing the steep- 
est places. The worst part is near the bottom, where the scouring of the 
river has left a nearly vertical wall 400 feet high. But there are several 
crannies where a precarious foothold may be obtained, and the river may 
be reached with less difficulty than might have been anticipated. Very 
seldom is it possible to descend in safety the walls of the Grand Canon. 

At the brink of the river there is little to call for special mention here. 

To the imagination must be left the task of picturing the aspect of the walls 
7 G c 


of the inner gorge, rising 3,000 feet above us on either hand. The river 
now appears more nearly in its true dimensions. Its width varies greatly, 
being from 250 to 450 feet in width. Above and below us are cataracts 
where the water rushes with a deafening roar among huge blocks of basalt, 
and the voice of the waters is reverberated from the faces of the crags in a 
deep solemn monotone that never ceases. Between the cataracts the stream 
outspreads to great width and rushes swiftly by. It is almost always tur- 
bid, and generally is charged with a heavy load of sand and silt. On the 
lowest talus near the brink may be seen lines of high-water mark, some as 
high as fifty or sixty feet above the ordinary summer stages. Within those 
stages the rocks are ground and polished, carved into strange shapes, and 
worn by pot-holes from the scouring of the current. All of the bowlders 
are rounded and ground away, or have become carious and crumbly by the 
chemical reactions of air and water, x4.ll things plainly reveal the power- 
ful effects of coxTasion acting with extreme energy. We do not wonder at 
it now. The impetuous rush of the waters charged with sharp sand even 
at the lower stages is amply suggestive, and the mind is at a loss to conceive 
what must be the power of the river when its volume is many times multi- 

The Toroweap Valley has a significance to the geologist which might 
not be at once apparent to the tourist. Even the geologist would be slow 
to discern it unless familiar with cognate facts displayed in the country at 
large bordering the Grand Canon. In the effort to intei'pret its meaning it 
becomes necessary to take a hasty view of one or two broad facts relating 
to the lateral drainage of the chasm. Upon the north side there is but one 
side canon carrying drainage from distant regions in all the distance 
between the head of the Marble and the foot of the Grand Canons. This 
single exception is Kanab Canon. In this respect the Colorado is much 
like the lower courses of the Nile ; and the cause is plainly the same. The 
region is too arid to sustain any living sti'eams or even to keep open the 
conduits which in former periods might have sustained them. Yet upon 
the assumption that at some former period the climate was much more humid 
all analogy compels us to believe that the Colorado once received manj^ 
tributaries which are now extinct, and upon examination we find good evi- 





dence that this was really the case. The Toroweap Valley is the modified 
channel of an ancient river. On the west side of the Uinkaret is another. 
A third is seen upon the south side of the Colorado, directly opposite the 
Toroweap, and a few others may be easily designated. It appears that all 
these rivers dried up before the inner gorge was excavated. For if they 
had continued to carry water we may be sm-e that they would have cut 
their chasms as deep as the Grand Canon itself— just as the Little Colorado, 
Kanab Creek, and Cataract Creek have done. For we have only to look 
at the great multitude of lateral chasms of the upper courses of the Colo- 
rado and of its forks, the Grand and Green, to be deeply impressed with the 
fact that so long as a tributary river carries, we will not say a living stream, 
but even occasional floods, its channel will be scoured down to the same 
level as the trunk river itself. It is apparent, then, that the Toroweap dried 
up before the cutting of the inner gorge of the Grand Canon began, and 
hence we infer that the arid climate which caused it to dry up existed before 
the beginning of the inner gorge. 

By the application of other homologous facts, and by the same method 
of reasoning, we infer that the outer chasm has also been excavated during 
the prevalence of an arid climate. The platform of the country adjoining the 
canon is at present devoid of lateral chasms, yet traces are often found of 
ancient channels which became dry at about the time the excavation of the 
outer canon began, or very soon thereafter. They are cut to comparatively 
slight depths — from one hundred to three or four hundred feet. That they 
are not of recent origin is proved by the fact that they often have slopes 
away from the river, though it is clear that they formerly sloped towards 
it. In truth, the entii'e chasm betrays everywhere the continued action of 
an arid climate through the entire period of its formation. This arid period 
is limited, approximately, to Pliocene and Quaternary time. The general 
tenor of the facts is to the effect that the Miocene was a humid period and 
the Phocene a dry one throughout the greater part of the West. This is 
one of the reasons which lead us to the very probable conclusion that the 
age of the Grand Canon is not older than the beginning of Pliocene time. 
"We might also draw a similar inference from a consideration of the enor- 
mous erosion which took place here before the excavation of the chasm was 


begun. The denudation of the Mesozoic system was an incomparably 
greater work, and yet that denudation could not have begun until the last 
strata (the Lower Eocene) were deposited. If these inferences are well 
founded, we may assign the greater part of Eocene and the whole of Mio- 
cene time for the principal denudation of the Mesozoic, and the Pliocene 
and Quaternary for the excavation of the entire cafion. The proportion 
thus suggested between the portions of the work done and the divisions of 
time required to accomplish them seems very fair and reasonable. But the 
strongest evidence of all it wovild be almost impossible to recite here in 
detail. In general terms, it may be characterized as that internal evidence 
which appears when a vast array of facts, at first disjointed and without 
obvious relation, are subsequently grouped aright into a coherent system. 
Each constituent fact is then seen to admit of one intelligible interpretation 
and no other; and each subsidiary proposition has an overwhelming justifi- 
cation and an evidence of verity far stronger than any which could be 
summoned, if we endeavored to prove it independently. 


Common features of the Sheavwits and Uinkaret, with the latter as the type. — The boundaries of the 
Uinkaret defined. — The three groups of facts presented by the plateau, basaltic eruptions, the 
Hurricane fault, and the Permian remnants. — The foundation of the plateau is of Carboniferous 
strata, with many remnants of Lower Permian beds. — The volcanic masses. — Ancient basaltic 
plateaus. — The Trumbull, Logan, and Emma platforms. — View of the recent cones from the sum- 
mit of Trumbull. — Grouping of tlie cones. — Their linear arrangement. — The lava caps of the 
plateaus. — Their antiquity. — Eelations of the younger to the older basalts. — Former extensions 
of the lava caps and their denudation. — Similar facts presented by the Sheavwits Plateau. — The 
distribution of the younger basalts. — A long interval of repose between the old and young 
basalts. — Basaltic eruptions of very recent age. — The Hurricane fault. — Its appearance at the 
Grand Canon. — Its northward extension. — Its great displacement at the Virgen River. — Distor- 
tion of the strata at the fault plane. — Details of the dislocation. — Action of the fault in the 
Queantoweap. — Relations of the fault to the lavas. — It cuts the ancient basalts, but nf>t the 
recent ones. — Lava cascades across the fault-plane — The Permian remnants. — Comparative 
smoothness of the denuded platform. — Infrequency of lateral drainage channels. — Base-levels of 
erosion. — Efi'ect of an arid climate upon the topographical features — Geological history. 

The two western subdivisions of the Grand Canon district, the Sheav- 
wits and Uinkaret Plateaus are much alike in their physical features and 
in respect to the groups of geological facts which they present. To study 
and describe both of them in detail would extend the discussion into a weari- 
some repetition without adding anything of sufficient value to justify it. 
The groups of facts which they present are displa5'ed in a more compact, 
intelligible, and, on the whole, more complete manner in the Uinkaret than 
in the Sheavwits, and the former subdivision is selected for description in 
some detail as the representative of both. It will be necessary, however, 
to make frequent allusions to the Sheavwits. 

The position of the Uinkaret is between the Sheavwits on the west anc". 
the Kanab Plateau on the east. For the most part, its boundaries are well 
defined. Throughout its entire western border the great Hurricane fault 
and the resulting cliff known as the Hurricane Ledge is the boundary ; 

with equal definiteness the Grand Canon terminates it upon the south. On 



the northern side the Permian cHfifs, there of unusual magnitude for that 
formation, constitute an unmistakable limit. Upon the eastern side only 
one-half of the boundary line is well marked. The Toroweap Valley serves 
this purpose very satisfactorily so far as it extends, but this valley fades 
but about 22 or 23 miles north of the Grand Caiion and thenceforward to 
the northern boundary there is hardly more than a nominal or even im- 
aginary boundary separating the Uinkaret from the Kanab platform. Its 
length from north to south may be roughly stated at 45 to 50 miles, and 
its width at 8 to 12 miles. Of the four plateaus through which the great 
chasm extends it is very much the smallest. But in point of interest it is 
second only to the Kaibab. 

The Uinkaret offers three groups of facts which are useful and import- 
ant for our purposes. They are (1) Basaltic erujDtions, (2) the Hurricane 
fault, (3) the remnants of Permian strata. They all contribute data which 
may be utilized in the discussion of the physical evolution and history of 
the region. No attempt will be made to draw from them any new light 
upon the general subjects of volcanism, displacement, or stratigraphy, for 
they present very little that is novel, and they could only serve to add a 
few more facts of no uncommon kind to categories which are already replete 
with observations of similar nature. They will be studied here solely with 
an eye to the main questions considered in this monograph— to find out what 
light they shed upon the physical history of the district. Thus considered 
they may prove to be of some value. 

The foundation of the Uinkaret Plateau is the general mass of Car- 
boniferous strata which everywhere constitute the platform of the interior 
spaces of the Grand Canon district. Throughout the greater part of the 
Uinkaret are found many patches of Permian beds overlying the Carbon- 
iferous with apparent conformity. No doubt if the contacts were thoroughly 
exposed we should find many unconformities by erosion without any differ- 
ence of dip. In a very few places contacts of this nature have been detected 
and under the circumstances they cannot well be regarded as exceptional, 
but should rather be looked upon as representing the ordinary method of 
apposition in these two groups of strata. These Permian remnants, with 
few exceptions, belong to the basal members of that series. They are the 


so-called Permo-Carboniferous beds of King and Gilbert. But Mr. Walcott, 
finding their fauna more closely allied to the Permian, and, in fact, very 
strongly distinguished from or even contrasted with the true Carboniferous 
beneath, has wisely, as it seems to me, included them in the Permian of the 
Plateau Province as its basal division. Some conception of the manner in 
which the remnants of this formation occur may perhaps be gained by im- 
agining a country which is nearly a smooth plain and only divei'sified by 
wide flat-topped eminences 80 to 150 feet high, separated by broad shallow 
valleys. Conceiving the strata to be everywhere horizontal the eminences 
would correspond to the remnants of Lower Permian strata, while in the 
valleys the summit of the Carboniferous is laid bare. 

In the southern part of the Uinkaret there are several masses which 
are much more than low eminences, which in fact attain nearly or quite 
the dignity of mountains or at least of very large hills, and which preserve 
the entii'e Permian series with thick bodies of basalt overlying it. Two of 
these are especially noteworthj^ The loftiest and most conspicuous is 
Mount Trumbull, a broad, well-defined, and isolated mass rising nearly 
2,000 feet above the plains at its base and nearly 3,003 feet above the Toro- 
weap Valley near its southeastern flank. It consists of Permian strata which 
have here a thickness of probably 1 ,400 feet with a basaltic lava cap 500 
to 600 feet thick forming the upper part of the mountain. In all strictness 
it is a great butte. Its strata are sensiblj^ horizontal, and the whole mass 
has very plainly been carved out like a cameo by the denudation of the 
strata roundabout. Two or three miles southwest of Trumbull is Mount 
Logan, a tabular mass of much greater area but somewhat lower in altitude. 
In respect to structure, it is very similar to Trumbull, having nearly if not 
quite the whole Permian series, with a lava cap of varying thickness, but 
seldom exceeding 300 feet, and usually from 100 to 200 feet thick. South 
of Logan and distant about five miles is a platform which may perhaps 
be regarded as the continuation of the Logan mass in that direction. A 
depression exists between the two sufficient to warrant a topograjjhical 
distinction if we desire it, though not so great as to destroy entirely the 
continuity of the two if we prefer that view of the case. This southern 
platform has apparently a structure similar to that of Trumbull and Logan, 


though it is inferred that only a part and perhaps a small part of the Per- 
mian series is present while the lava cap has a thickness of 600 to 800 feet. 
Upon it stand a dozen basaltic cinder cones of comparatively recent origin, 
the largest and highest of which has received the name of Mount Emma. 
The same name will be used to designate the platform upon which that 
crater stands. To appreciate the significance of these tabular masses it is 
necessary to look at the distribution of the lavas of the Uinkaret. 


If we stand upon the summit of Mount Trumbull we shall observe, in 
every direction, a multitude of well-preserved basaltic craters. In the 
course of a few hours, with the aid of a large field-glass, it is possible to 
descry from this point between 120 and 130 distinct cinder-cones, and there 
are many others which will escape detection. Altogether there are between 
160 and 170 distinct vents upon the Uinkaret and its purlieus which have 
been observed and noted, and very likely some others have been overlooked. 
North of Trumbull the remotest one of the group is clearly defined at a dis- 
tance of about 26 miles. Southward a cluster of them stands upon the brink 
of the upper wall of the Grand Canon 1 G or IT miles away, and there are 
others beyond concealed by the canon wall. Across the great chasm a few 
scattering ones may be seen nestled beneath the mighty southern palisade 
of the canon. Eastward of the Toroweap eight distinct cones appear upon 
the nearer part of the Kanab Plateau. But it is around the base of Trum- 
bull on all sides that they are huddled most closely together. In truth, they 
are so numerous in this vicinity that it is extremely difficult to count them, 
and we can never be sure that the counting is correct. None of these are 
of grand dimensions, and, in truth, most of them are very small. A few are 
of respectable size, attaining an altitude of 700 or 800 feet, and a diameter 
of a mile. Not one of them has yet been seen to contain any features of a 
novel character. They are all of the most ordinary structure, and are as 
much alike among themselves as so many ant-hills. 

The grouping of the cones is not altogether capricious. The so-called 


"linear arrangement" is often seen. From three to seven or eight cones 
may be found in rows, as if they were so many vents occurring along the 
course of a single fissure. Very many, however, seem too isolated in this 
respect. For aught we know, the fissure may be there, but only one vent 
is situated upon it. It may be remarked here that no evidence has been 
found on the Uinkaret that these vents have any association with fissures, 
beyond the mere fact that the linear arrangement is in quite a number of 
cases well marked. For example, on the Kanab Plateau, three or four miles 
east of the Toro'weap, is a line of craters, seven in all, occurring at intervals 
of two or three miles. Each has around its base a few small coulees of 
basalt, but the country between them is in greatest part free fi'om lava. 
There is no trace of a fault or fissure visible there. A fault of any notable 
magnitude could not escape detection, and a fissure, if it exists there, has 
been wholly concealed The same is true of the other lines of craters. 
Although the intervals between them are frequently free from lava, and the 
edges of the Permian beds well exposed in many of the shallow vales, no 
trace of such a fracture has yet been seen. Still, the fissures may be quite 
small — only a yard or two in width — and they may have been covered so 
effectually by alluvium that they have escaped observation. The basalts 
here show no tendency to seek the great fault planes as favorite places from 
which to erupt. I am inclined (with some reserve) to remark that they 
rather avoid such places, oir resort to them less frequently than to others. 
There are very few cases where the crater seems to be very nearly or ex- 
actly upon the line of a great fault. Vulcan's Throne, at the foot of the 
Toroweap, is such an one, and four or five other instances have been noted. 
The strongest feature of such occurrences, however, is their paucity. If 
there be any specially favored locus of eruption, with reference to a great 
fault, I should say that it may be found along the upthrow of the fault, and 
from a mile and a half to four or five miles from the plane or line of dislo- 
cation. While exceptional cases are found, they are very uncommon. 

The heavy lava caps which form the summits of Trumbull and Logan, 
and the platform on which the crater Emma stands, have nothing in common 
with the craters just mentioned. These basalts did not come from such 
craters, but are much older. The vents from which they issued have been 


completely demolished by time and decay. The existing cones are, geologi- 
cally speaking, of very recent creation, even the oldest of them. The 
eruption of the basalts in the lava-caps goes back to an older period, when 
the country presented a different aspect from the present one. These ancient 
lavas form in realit}- "basaltic plateaus" similar, in most respects, to those 
of the Auvergne and Vivarais Mount Trumbull itself is such a plateau 
essentially, though its horizontal dimensions are greatly shrunken in com- 
parison with their former magnitudes. The older lavas are much more 
massive, and lie in thicker sheets, than any to be found among the younger 
eruptions. Lithologically, there is no difference among them. Old and 
young seem to be of identical constitution, and, in truth, it seems as if every 
coulee on the Uinkaret might have come from one and the same vesicle. 

The point to be specially noted in connection with these older basalts 
is that they are found upon the summits of the highest tabular masses, 
while the younger basalts, as a general rule, occupy the lower surrounding 
spaces. This is admirably shown in Mr. Holmes' panorama from Mount 
Eiuma (Atlas sheet No. IX). On the left is shown the tabular mass of Logan, 
which is capped with ancient basalt, without a single recent cone or lava- 
flow upon it. In the middle of the picture is Trumbull, the loftiest of all, 
crowned with its old lava-cap. On the nearest corner of the mountain there 
is a solitary crater of much younger date, sending heavy streams of basalt 
down to the plain below. The profile of this crater is also well shown 
in the wood-cut (Plate XX), where it is represented on the right-hand flank 
of the mountain as it appears from the summit of Logan. The younger age 
of this crater is betrayed at once by the fact that its lava streams are shot 
down across the abruptly scarped edges of the old lava-cap and across the 
eroded edges of the underlying strata. 

The Emma platform is also an ancient basaltic plateau. But while 
Trumbull contains only one recent crater, and Logan not even one, there 
are a dozen or more on the Enmia platform. It is evident, however, that 
they are much more recent than the main lava-cap; for they have many 
streams of basalts proceeding from them, which can be easily distinguished 
from the more massive flows beneath. The streams which came from those 
cones which stand near the western brink have poured down the western 



escarpment of the Uinkaret across the branches of the Hurricane fault, and 
have reached to the bottom of the Queantoweap Valley, more than 3,000 
feet below. These coulees lie across the scarped wall of the old lava-cap, 
which had been greatly eroded and wasted before the younger floods wei'e 
outpoured. The relation of the younger basalts of the Emma platform 
overlying the older ones is therefore exceptional, as compared with the 
relations of the two groups of lavas presented in Trumbull and Logan. 

The inferences to be drawn from these facts are as follows. During 
the eruption of the older basalts the Uinkaret Plateau had a very different 
topography from the present. It is probable that at that epoch very large 
bodies of Permian strata, some of them embracing the entire series, 
remained, and not only covered the greater part of the plateau, but may 
have sustained important remnants of the Trias. It is useless to speculate 
as to details, or even as to the broader features of that ancient topography. 
The conclusion is limited to the inference that the Permian formation then 
constituted the general platform in much the same way as the upper 
Carboniferous now does. It is a fair presumption that the plane of contact 
between the lava-caps of Trumbull and Logan, and the Permian beds 
beneath, represents the approximate geological horizon which then consti- 
tuted the surface of the region. In one place higher strata may have 
occurred, in another some progress may have been made in the denudation 
of the Permian. The remnants of this formation, now found in Trumbull 
and Logan, owe their preservation to the thick coverings of basalt. 

On the Sheavwits Plateau we find a precisely similar state of facts. 
About 12 or 15 miles northwest of Logan is a large remnant of Permian 
beds overlaid with basalt. It has received the name of Diamond Butte. It 
rises 800 to 900 feet above the surrounding plain, and discloses the edges of 
the strata lying almost horizontally and showing their characteristic colors. 
Far beyond it, in the northern part of the plateau, may be discerned the 
cliffs bounding the principal mass of this formation. Turning to the south- 
east of Logan, we may perceive a much larger mass of the same nature 
situated in the southern part of the Sheavwits. It consists of Permian 
strata covered with basalt. The length of this outlier is about 25 miles 
and its width from 3 to 6 miles. Whether the entire Permian series is 


present in these insulated mesas of the Sheavwits we do not know, but 
we are quite confident that much more than half of it is there. The 
meaning of these outliers is evidently the same as that which we have 
deduced from the plateaus of Trumbull and Logan. The Sheavwits basalts 
were erupted at an epoch when the Permian formed the general surface of 
the plateau, and these outUers have been preserved by the lava sheets from 
the denudation which has removed the unprotected portions. (Plate IV.) 

We may now revert to the younger basalts. These have all emanated 
from cones which still remain in good preservation. Very few of the craters 
have suffered any extensive ravage from the chemical processes of secular 
decay or from the mechanical work of erosion. But now and then we find 
one which has been sapped, battered, and dissolved to some notable extent, 
though never to such an extent as to efface its more important features, or as 
to leave doubt about its nature and character. As already remarked, these 
cone§ cover a large extent of ground, being found from the brink of the 
chasm northward throughout a space of nearly 50 miles, and from the 
western verge of the Uinkaret to a point 20 miles east upon the Kanab 
Plateau. All around the base of Trumbull, and thence southward over the 
extreme southern part of the plateau, they cluster most thickly, often standing 
base to base, or even with confluent bases. Many of them have multiple 
vents or cups, and four or five vents in the same pile are not uncommon. 
As we proceed northward or eastward from Trumbull the cones gradually 
become less frequent and more scattered. 

The lava streams which have flowed from these cones are never very 
voluminous, compared with what may be seen in more extensive volcanic 
regions. On the southern part of the plateau some copious eruptions may 
be seen. But it is very difficult here to distinguish one eruption from others. 
In numerous places we find lava flows from a mile to two miles wide, and 
reaching five or six miles from the vents; but there can be no doubt that 
they are composed of very many streams— perhaps hundreds of them. And 
yet it is impossible to separate any one sti'eam in its entirety from the others. 
In many places the basalt has run over the edge of the plateau to the bottom 
of the Toroweap, to the esplanade of the canon, and to the floor of the 
Queantoweap Valley on the west. The passes where these lavas have 


descended form very striking and suggestive spectacles. Each of them 
holds many streams, but so blended together in appearance that they might 
at first glance be supposed to be each a single coulee of vast proportions. 
There are five of these passes descending into the Toroweap; two from the 
southern end of the Uinkaret to the esplanade of the canon, and two 
descending into the Queantoweap. The largest of all is upon the western 
side of the Uinkaret, leading down into the Queantoweap from a cluster of 
large cones standing in the interval which separates the Logan from the 
Mount Emma platform. This lava cascade is about two and a half miles 
wide and descends about 2,600 feet. 

Among the basalt fields which lie north and east of Trumbull there are 
two which attain notable proportions. One of them begins about two miles 
north of the mountain, and has at its summit a multiple cone consisting of 
five or six vents. This cone has been considerably wasted by erosion, and 
its interior structvire is in great part laid open to view. It shows the famihar 
arrangement of tufaceous and scoriaceous material around a central pipe, 
the layers dipping downwards and inwards from the rim of the crater 
towards the pipe, and downwards and outwards from the rim towards the 
base. The anatomy of the multiple mass is also shown, and the growth of 
new craters upon the cone previously formed. From these vents a great 
number of eruptions have taken place, and they have built up a turtle- 
shaped mass of lavas having a thickness of 700 to 800 feet, and spreading 
out to the north, the east, and the west of the cone four to six miles. 
Towards the borders of this field the thickness steadily diminishes and at 
last vanishes in a thin irregular edge. East of Trumbull is another and 
somewhat larger field. This has many large cones upon it, standing in 
clusters of three to five, arranged in a line. The largest individual coulees 
seem to have emanated from these craters, and their aggregate thickness 
may exceed 500 feet. In the outer portions of the volcanic area the lava 
fields are all of small extent and usually very thin. From the cones on 
the Kanab Plateau the eruptions have been of very small volume and the 
lavas do not extend more than half a mile from their bases. 

Between the epoch of the extravasation of the ancient basalts of the 
Trumbull, Logan, and Emma platforms and the epoch of eruptions from 


the cones, it is evident that a long period of time elapsed. The ancient 
basalts are much eroded. Not only have their craters been demolished, but 
the massive floods which emanated from them have been greatly w^asted. 
That these lava-caps are mere remnants of masses covering originally much 
broader areas is quite apparent. Their very aspect speaks strongly in favor 
of this conclusion. The surfaces of these basalts are gray with weathering, 
and the chemical action of the atmospheric agents has penetrated deeply into 
the most massive portions. None of them have preserved any of those 
rough, inflated, ropy, scoriaceous matters which form the surface of every 
fresh outpour. Nothing is left but the most compact and solid portions of 
the lava sheets. At the borders of the tabular masses which they cover 
they end in cliffs, where the thick beds of lava are suddenly cut off by the 
undermining and recession of the strata beneath them. Large gorges and 
amphitheaters are excavated into the flanks of those tables into which the 
lava-fragments have fallen as the caps were undermined. No such devas- 
tation has wasted any of the younger lavas. These are much fresher in 
appearance and often as black as coal. Only around the outermost edges 
of these sheets do we find any traces of undermining and degradation. 
Almost all of them still preserve those slaggy, spongy, and scoriaceous pro- 
ducts left by the viscous stage of cooling. 

There are manj^ indications that a long interval of quiescence sepa- 
rated the two epochs of volcanic activity, some of which will appear in the 
sequel. Here we may mention merely that none of the eruptions hitherto 
seen appear to have taken place under circumstances which leave any doubt 
as to which of the two epochs they belong. And surely no notable masses 
of any age whatever have escaped observation. In that long interval of 
quiescence important changes took place involving a large amount of ero- 
sion and a large amount of displacement, and these changes have left their 
marks which cannot be mistaken. 

Nevertheless, the younger period of eruptions was a long one ; so long 
in fact that it is a fair question whether, for purposes of convenience, we 
may not subdivide it artificially, giving to the earher outbreaks the desig- 
nation of middle-aged eruptions and to the latest that of modern eruptions. 
But it should be done with the understanding that the most ancient of all 


the lavas — the basalts in the lava-caps — form a group by themselves wholly 
apart and distinct from all the others and with a great and well-marked in- 
terval between ; while the so-called middle-aged and modern eruptions 
shade into each other without any such distinction. 

In those volcanoes which may thus be termed middle-aged we find 
evidences of considerable progress of the decay which must ultimately re- 
move them altogether. The cones are still standing, indeed, but are wasted 
and worn. Their flanks are channeled deeply with ravines, and in some of 
them the interior structure is dissected and well exposed. The cinders and 
scoria have been converted into soil and the fragments have lost all resem- 
blance to their original aspects. The lava fields around them have also put on 
an appearance of antiquity ; not so great indeed as that of the massive sheets 
in the lava-caps far above them, but yet plain and conspicuous. They have 
become gray and dull in color, and the decomposition of the augites and 
feldspars has penetrated to notable depths into the solid blocks. Such are 
the cones and lava fields of the turtle-back which lies immediately north 
of Trumbull, and such are the masses which extend from the base of the 
mountain eastward. 

Let us now look at the other extreme — the extreme of recency. Between 
Logan and Trumbull we find some rather extensive fields of basalt, which 
excite surprise when we first come upon them. They are hidden by a sur- 
rounding forest of large pines, and the first view is gained either by finding 
ourselves within a dozen yards of the border, as we wander through the 
forest aisles, or else by a sudden coup d^osil, as the whole expanse flashes 
upon the vision from the summit of Trumbull. It looks as fresh as any 
coulee of Vesuvius ejected twenty or thirty years ago.* Compared with the 
other later eruptions of the Uinkaret, its dimensions are larger than the 
average. Its entire surface is covered with blocks of pumice of the most 
delicate kind. It has a texture very much like the lightest coke, the vesi- 
cles, however, being considerably larger than those of ordinary coke, and 
very uniform throughout. The septa between the vesicles are very thin, 
and the whole mass is so light that when a specimen is varnished over to 

*Sucli was the opiuiou of Mr. Holmes, who viewed it with me, and who had just returned from a, 
visit to Vesuvius. 


prevent access of water to the cavities it floats upon water like a cork.* In 
this condition the lava is extremely susceptible to weathering. It quickly 
turns gray or rusty, and dissolves into soil. But in this lava field the most 
delicate pumice is still intensely black, and only here and there may be 
found specimens which begin to show the gray. (Plate XXI.) 

Any attempt, however, to fix the age of these lavas must prove quite 
fruitless. All that we can say is that it is very recent, even when time is 
judged by the historic or human standard. It cannot be many centuries 
old, and it may be more recent than the Spanish conquest. But there are 
reasons why lavas should here preserve for centuries the freshness which is 
lost in other countries in as many decades. The climate is arid, and there 
can be no question that the chemical action of the meteoric agents upon the 
lavas proceeds here with extreme slowness. 

Between the oldest of the middle-aged eruptions and this modern out- 
pour we find lavas of all intermediate ages. No long period within those 
limits appears to have passed without witnessing the activity of some one 
or more of the many cones now standing. 


We tui-n now to the great displacement which forms the western 
boundary of the Uinkaret. Of all the great dislocations of the western 
mountain region there is surely none more wonderful or more interesting. 
Its full extent is not yet known, but the greater part of it has been well 
ctudied. We do not know, as yet, where the southern end of it is located, 
or in what manner it runs out, whether by merging into the great displace- 
ment of the Aubrey Cliff's, or by gradually vanishing in the sierra country 
of Arizona. We know, however, that it appears in the Carboniferous plat- 
form south of the Colorado, and that it extends 30 or 40 miles in that direc- 
tion without undergoing any great modification of the features it presents 
where it crosses the river. This portion of it, however, has not been ex- 

*It may be remnrkerl here this basaltic pumice differs from ordinary rhyolitic pumice, the 
latter usually having very elongated or tubular vesicles, while the vesicles are seldom drawn out in the 
Uinkaret basalt, but are nearly round or polyhedral. 


plored in detail, and it is premature to attempt any further account of it. 
In the southern wall of the Grand Canon it appears with a displacement of 
about 1,500 feet, throwing down the whole country to the west of it, and 
producing a great cliff of displacement, which vanishes away into indefinite 
distance beyond the river. As we look at it from the northern side it is 
seen that the beds on the side of the downthrow flex downward as they 
approach the fault-plane. This feature is a very common one in the faults 
of the Grand Canon district, and will repeatedly recur as we trace them. 
Its effect just here is to make the displacement at the fault-plane much 
greater than at the distance of a mile or two to the west of it. On the north 
side of the canon the fault appears in still greater magnitude, and also branches 
out into four distinct displacements, appearing at rather small intervals. As 
far north as Mount Logan this multiple character is preserved, but about 4 
miles further north the branches disappear, and the dislocation becomes a 
single fault, with the edges of the dropped beds turned down. There is a 
slow but steady increase in the amount of displacement as it extends north- 
ward, until about thirty miles north of Logan the increase becomes more 
rapid. As we approach the Virgen River the dislocation becomes very 
great. Upon the sunken side the Permian makes its appearance, then the 
Trias, and finally the Jurassic sandstone, so that near the Virgen we stand 
upon the summit of the Carboniferous on the lifted side of the fault, and look 
down ixpon the Jura, 1,200 feet below us at the base of the cliff'. Here the 
estimated shear of the fault is about 6,600 feet. North of the Virgen the 
shear increases rapidly, until ten miles north of the Virgen we find the lower 
Eocene on one side and the Carboniferous nearly a thousand feet above the 
Eocene on the other. The displacement here is difficult to estimate with 
accuracy, but it probably exceeds 12,000 feet, and may attain 14,000 feet. 
In view of the great dimensions here inferred, there is a necessity for 
great care in scrutinizing the facts, and for ascertaining whether there is no 
other interpretation. This conclusion involves the assumption that the 
entire Permian and Mesozoic series, as well as the local Eocene, are pres- 
ent in the stratigraphic column of the thrown beds. Of this there can be 
little doubt. As we come northward along the fault we find the beds of the 
several groups coming in one after another until we reach the Eocene. In 

8 G 


some places they are partially obscured by volcanic sheets, but enough of 
them is exposed to leave no doubt as to their presence Moreover, they all 
exhibit a much larger volume than the corresponding exposures further 
eastward. Unless we suppose that the inferior formations thin out or dis- 
appear as the superior ones come in, the inferred amount of displacement is 
an unavoidable conclusion. There is no apparent reason for such a supposi- 
tion, and the presumption is quite the contrary. 

Although it is going far ou.tside of our district, it maybe remarked that 
the Hurricane fault exten.ds northward into Utah along the entire western 
front of the Marktigunt, and is still apparent on the southwestern flank of 
the Tushar range, where it finally disappears beneath great floods of lava. 
Its total length is certainly more than 200 miles. Wherever it runs it 
always forms an important topographic feature, the prominence of which is 
generally proportional to the amount of displacement. At the maximum 
part it constitutes the border of the great Mai-kagunt mass, and at the same 
time the border of the Plateau Province. Between the Virgen and the Colo- 
rado it is the dividing line between the Uinkaret and Sheavwits. At the 
upthrow is the Hurricane Ledge, which looks down 1,200 to 1,600 feet 
upon the Sheavwits platform. The clifi^ of displacement thus formed is 
perhaps the longest and best defined and one of the loftiest in the West. 

The details of this displacement are full of interest, and they are also 
extremely varied. The portion which lies along the greater part of the 
Uinkaret border is generally not very complicated, but in a few localities 
it is extremely so. From fifteen to twenty miles south of the Virgen the 
Sheavwits platform in the vicinit}^ of the fault plane is terribly shattered 
and mangled, and it is doubtful whether any analysis of it here is prac- 
ticable; but the simple character is soon resumed, and thenceforward to the 
Colorado every phase of it is distinct. It presents a single sharp disloca- 
tion, with no apparent crushing or shattering of the beds, and the only 
noteworthy feature is the persistent Ava)^ in which the beds of the downthrow 
flex downwards as they approach the fault line. In many places, also, the beds 
of the upthrow flex upward a little for a few hundred yards as they approach 
the fault, but this feature is somewhat less pronounced and less persistent than 
the opposite flexures of the dropped side. It is interesting to note here that 


the downward flexure has insured the preservation of a narrow strip of 
the Permian beds at the base of the Hurricane Ledge. The normal profiles 
produced in the cliff by erosion are such that the Permian strip receives 
protection from the talus. The explanation of this peculiar arrangement 
may be as follows. We may suppose that before the fault was started the 
beds along its course had been bent into a monocline dipping to the east. 
Such monoclines are the commonest and most typical form of displacement 
in the Plateau Country, and, though it would be out of place here to discuss 
the matter at length, I suspect that they are much more common in other 
regions, especially in little disturbed regions, than is generally supposed. 
The existence of such a flexure would leave the Sheavwits platform much 
higher than the Uinkaret. We may suppose the Uinkaret to have been 
hoisted above the Sheavwits after the formation of the flexure, or, in brief, 
that the flexing of the beds antedates the fault. This seems very simple, 
and natural enough, nor does any other explanation suggest itself; but this 
identical feature is repeated over and over again in other lines of displace- 
ment. It is seen in the southern part of the great Sevier fault at Pipe 
Spring, in the West Kaibab fault, and in numerous places along the great 
dislocations in the terraces and High Plateaus. If the explanation be a 
true one, it thus assumes a high degree of interest. Powell has long since 
remarked the homology between faults and monoclinal flexures by showing 
that they often shade into each other ; but in such cases the shearing couple 
has the same movement, whether the displacement be flexure or fault. In 
the Hurricane the movement of the shearing couple in producing the 
monocline is reversed in the formation of the fault. 

Let us now look at the features which the Hurricane fault discloses 
along those portions of the Uinkaret which have been the scene of volcanic 
activit3^ These are admirably revealed in the Queantoweap Valley. This 
valley is almost the exact counterpart of the Toroweap, repeating the feat- 
ures of the latter with singular accuracy. It is a lateral valley excavated 
upon the sunken side of the Hurricane fault, and cuts through tha upper 
and most of the lower Aubrey groups of the Carboniferous, and opens upon 
a wide esplanade of the Grand Canon, just as the Toroweap does. The 
inner gorge of the canon, however, is much less profound here; the espla- 


uade lies at a much lower level, aud the floor of the Queantoweap is a thou- 
sand feet lower. All this arises from the action of the fault, which can-ies 
down everything to the west of it from 1,200 to 1,*^00 feet. From the 
heights of the Uinkaret two great lava cascades descend into the valley, 
each composed of innumerable floods, which are so intimately blended 
together that at a hasty glance they look each like a single mighty outflow. 
The southern cascade emanates from a group of cones, of which Mount Emma 
is the central and dominant pile. The northern cascade, which is wider, but 
probably contains less mass, descends from a line of large craters which 
stand upon the brink of the plateau between the Logan and Emma plat- 
forms. We may descend either of these cascades with ease, but the northern 
one is to be preferred. Reaching the bottom of the Queantoweap, and fol- 
lowing its course downwards until we reach the southern cascade, we turn 
about and, looking northward, observe the features depicted by Mr. Holmes 
in Plate XXII. Three branches of the Hurricane fault are very plainly 
indicated. The high clifi" on the right conceals the heights of the Uinkaret 
above and beyond, but by changing our standpoint there is no difficulty in 
recognizing back of this clifl' a fourth branch of the fault, having a displace- 
ment of about 500 feet. Having fixed these dislocations, we may now 
return to the lava cascade and ascend to the plateau, noting on our way the 
relations of the lava to the faults. We find that the basalt has not been 
affected by them. The faults were there before the eruptions took place, 
and the lava descending nito the valley flowed across them, molding itself 
to whatsoever features the faults and subsequent erosion had generated ; nor 
can we detect any ti'ace of shearing in the lava beds. It must be observed, 
however, that the lavas in this cascade are all very j^oung, belonging, with- 
out exception, to later eruptions. It is doubtful, even, if they belong to 
those which I have termed middle-aged eruptions, and this term I have 
used to designate the earlier portions of the more recent outbreaks. They 
are certainly more recent than those which lie north and east of Trumbull. 
Following the branches of the fault noi'th and south, we at length find 
two of them cutting along jjortions of the Uinkaret flank, where remnants 
of the more ancient lava caps are preserved. Here the faults cut the lavas. 
This is plainly seen on the northwestern flank of Logan and again imme- 





diately west of Emma. And what is more, the basalt appears to have suf- 
fered the full amount of shearing due to the branch of the fault which cuts 
it. The largest branch is the westernmost, and it does not appear to run 
among any of the older basalts, so that we cannot venture any inference 
concerning the age of this branch relatively to the older basalts. But in 
general we have positive proof that two of these branches were formed after 
the ancient eruptions and before the recent eruptions. Here is an important 
fact, for it lets light in upon the dark and difficult problem of the age of the 
great Hun-icane displacement, and this problem forms an important link in 
the discussion of the history and physical evolution of the canon and the 
region which adjoins it. This fact will be followed to its consequences very 

It still remains to consider whether all these branches are contem- 
poraneous. It at first seems possible that they may be of widely dif- 
ferent ages. I know of no crucial fact which may be relied upon to prove 
that the several branches were formed together, but on the other hand there 
is a strong presumption that they do not differ much in age. Wherever we 
find the true position of the main fault, w^e observe that it lies close to the 
base of the ledge. The amount of recession by erosion of the cliff of dis- 
placement is very small. Hence we infer that this clifi" is of comparatively 
recent origin, and, as the branch faults are proven to be recent also, the sep- 
aration in point of time cannot be very great. 


The discussion of general questions of stratigraphy is not contemplated 
in this work, except to such extent as may be necessary to throw light upon 
the principal problem of which it treats— the Tertiary historj^ of the Grand 
Canon district. There is, however, so much interest to be found in the study 
of the remnants of the Permian which are scattered over the Grand Canon 
platform that it seems proper to mention them somewhat more fully than the 
pi'incipal theme may require. 

The intei-ior spaces of the district have hitherto been spoken of as being 


floored with the summit members of the Carboniferous strata, patched with 
remnants of the Permian. A somewhat more precise account of its surface 
geology may be given. Adverting first to the topography, it may be 
remarked that, in general, it is very mildly undulated. The great chasms 
which enter the Grand Canon are very few and far between, and so also 
are the great cliiFs of displacement. These grand features occupy in reality 
but a small portion of the entire area, and are limited to narrow winding 
strips. Between the lines of diversification by cliff and canon, the vast 
expanse is only very gently undulated for the most part, though here and 
there a few notable masses rise above the plains to considerable altitudes. 
Throughout this broad and slightly varied expanse the surface of denu- 
dation cuts the strata in such a way that the hills usually consist of lower 
Permian strata lying horizontally, while the shallow valleys expose the 
Carboniferous. The mean position of the surface of denudation is very 
nearly coincident with the dividing horizon between those two formations. 
But as that surface is an undulating one and the strata are sensibly horizontal, 
it sometimes rises a little above that dividing horizon and sometimes falls a 
little below it. If, however, we successively visit districts considerably 
apart, we shall find in one of them that the mean position of the svirface of 
denudation is below that horizon so far that no Permian rocks appear in the 
hills; in the other it is so far above it that no Carboniferous rocks appear in 
the valleys. 

Upon reflection, we cannot fail to be struck with this remarkable fact, 
that an area so extensive has been denuded in such a manner that the sur- 
face of the country is everywhere very nearly the same geological horizon. 
The fact becomes all the more striking when we recall, first, the enormous 
denudation which has taken place; second, the great altitude of the country; 
and, third, the very considerable inequalities of altitude. The fact is at vari- 
ance with what we usually find under the circumstances here recited. A 
high country, greatly ravaged by erosion during a long succession of geo- 
logical periods, would, we should think, be carved deeply by valleys with 
rugged, lofty, and highly irregular masses between; and when displace- 
ment by faults and flexures and by the tilting of broad expanses is added 
to the various conditions, we should expect to find these irregularities still 


more complex. The comparative smoothness of the Grrand Canon platform, 
therefore, is a problem which seems to demand special explanation. Sucli 
an explanation may, I think, be given, and in the sequel it will be offered. 
Just here it may be sufficient to indicate it only in the briefest manner. 

We may suppose that this entire region, at the epoch at which the great 
denudation of the Mesozoic system approached completion, occupied a level 
not much above the sea. Under such circumstances it would have been at 
what Powell terms base-level of erosion. The rivers and tributaries would 
no longer corrade their channels. The inequalities which are due to land 
sculpture and the general process of erosion would then no longer increase, 
and the total energy of erosion would be occupied in reducing such ine- 
qualities as had been previously generated. During periods of upheaval, and 
for a considerable time thereafter, the streams are cutting down their chan- 
nels, and weathering widens them into broad valleys with ridges between. 
The diversification so produced reaches a maximum when the streams have 
nearly reached their base-levels. But when the streams can no longer cor- 
rade, and if the uplifting ceases, these diversifications are reduced and 
finally obliterated. Such, I conceive, was the case here. Somewhere about 
tlie close of the Miocene the principal denudation had been nearly com- 
pleted. The Grand Caiion platform then may have lain near sea-level, and 
the remnants of Mesozoic beds which we may imagine to have been scattered 
over it were gradually obliterated, and the entire region was planed down 
to a comparatively smooth surface. Subsequently a new epoch of upheaval 
set in, and the Grand Canon was begun. Under an ordinary climate this 
new upheaval would have set at work an intricate plexus of streams, carving- 
out anew the uplifted platform into deep valleys and lofty ridges and mesas. 
But a new condition intervened. The climate had now become an arid one. 
There were but few streams to corrade, and as the aridity increased these 
few became only three or four along the entire drainage system of the Grand 
Canon platform. No new inequalities were generated other than those we 
now see, because there were no rivers to carve them out. 

This explanation may seem at first to be a gratuitous assumption for 
the explanation of a single fact. But as the discussion proceeds we shall 
find ourselves brought frequently to the inference of an epoch when the 


oHmate jjassed from a humid to an arid condition, and of two or more 
epochs when a throe of upheaval followed a considerable period of repose. 
And the presumption will grow stronger, and at last become very powerful, 
that this change of climate and one of the throes of upheaval, the birth of 
the present Grand Canon, the most ancient basaltic eruptions of the Uin- 
karet and Sheavwits, and the starting of the greater faults of the region, 
Avere not onh- contemporaneous events, but were mutually associated and 

The facts which have been recited in this and in the preceding chapter 
seem to me to indicate the following order of sequence in the events which 
have resulted in the production of the Grand Canon. At the close of Mio- 
cene time the larger part of the general denudation of the Mesozoic strata 
had been completed. Considerable masses of the Permian were then remain- 
ing, which have since been eroded. At that time the surface of the country 
was situated at a level not far above the sea, and was at a base level of 
erosion. It had been so for a long stretch of time, sufficient, in fact, to have 
allowed of the obliteration of most of the inequalities which had been gen- 
erated by the upheavals and erosion occurring in late Eocene and early 
Miocene time. At length a new epoch of upheaval set in, hoisting the 
country from 2,000 to 3,000 feet, and somewhat unequally. Under ordi- 
nary circumstances this would have resulted in the production of fresh feat- 
ures by the corrasion of streams. But a change of climate from moist to 
arid had in the meantime occurred. The streams were in chief part dried 
up, leaving only the Colorado and a few of its more powerful tributaries. 
Such streams as remained alive corraded their channels, but the greater part 
of the platform suffered no other havoc than the slow waste by sapping of 
the edsres of the Permian remnants in much the same manner as it does at 
the present time. Contemporaneously with the upheaval the Hurricane fault 
was developed. Possibly some form of displacement of much less magni- 
tude than that now existing was already established; possibly only a part 
of the present displacement was effected during this particular throe of 
upheaval. Accompanying the uplifting and faulting movement were the 
earliest volcanic outbreaks, represented by the lava caps of the Trumbull, 
Logan, and Emma platforms. At length the uplifting action paused for a 


time. The volcanism ceased to be active. The river sought and quickly 
found a new base-level at the horizon of the great esplanade of the 
Grand Canon. In its turn the process of corrasion rested. The pro- 
cess of erosion during this second period of base-level was occupied 
in the only work possible under the circumstances, viz, sapping the newly- 
formed cliffs of the canon. The cliffs, thus attacked, receded away from 
the river, gradually developing the broad avenue of the outer chasm. In 
tlie very few tributaries which survived the advent of the arid climate the 
same process of sapping and recession of cliffs is discernible. When the 
cliffs of the outer chasm had receded from two to three miles away from 
the river, another and more active period of upheaval set in. Again the 
country was hoisted, this time more than before. At once the corrasion of 
the river bed was renewed. The faults were increased. The volcanic fires 
were rekindled. Swiftly the inner gorge was scoured out, and the chasm 
assumed its present condition. At present the uplifting force is inactive, 
the volcanoes are extinct, the faults are not increasing, and the river has 
nearly but not quite reached another base-level. 

Throughout the entire stretch of the Grand and Marble canons this 
order of events is betrayed. It is not confined to the Uinkaret and Toro- 
weap, but is general for the whole district. The theory fits the facts per- 
fectly, and the range of facts to which it is adapted is a very wide and 
complex one ; for it comprises the drainage, the surface topography, the 
erosion, the volcanism, the displacements, the climate. All these facts and 
their respective trains of jjlienomena the theory brings into harmony, and 
it shows their relations to each other. In the following chapters the same 
grouping of the facts in a systematic process of evolution will appear again 
and again until the cumulative proof becomes irresistible. 



Distant view of the Kaibab. — The Kauab gap and the Permian. — Head of Kanab Canon. — Sunset on 
the Kanab desert. — Hot days and cool nights. — Distant view of the terrace clift's from the Kanab 
platform. — Reading geology thirty miles away. — Desert vegetation. — Approaching the plateau. 
Stewart's canon.— Reaching water. — Sinking of the streams. — Entering the plateau. — Picturesqne 
ravines.^Arboreal vegetation. — Forest vistas. — De Motte Park. — Arrangement of the drainage 
channels on the summit of the plateau. — Lagoons and subterranean drainage channels. — The 
Sylvan Gate and Little De Motte Park. — Milk Spring. — Reaching the brink. 

The Kaibab is the loftiest of the four plateaus through which the Grand 
Canon extends. It is from 1,500 to 2,000 feet higher than the Kanab 
Plateau on the west, and from 2,500 to 4,000 feet higher than the Marble 
Canon platform on the east. Its superior altitude is due wholly to displace- 
ment and not to erosion, for the strata upon its summit are the same as 
those upon the surfaces of the others. The upheaval has produced a sharp 
fault upon the western flank and a great monoclinal flexure upon its eastern 
flank. Throughout its entire platform the upper Carboniferous forms the 
surface. The Kaibab begins at the base of the Vermilion Cliffs near the 
little village of Paria, its northern extremity terminating in a slender cusp. 
Steadily widening, and increasing very slowly in altitude, it reaches south- 
ward nearly a hundred miles to the Colorado River, where it attains a breadth 
of about 35 miles. Its highest point is about 9,280 feet above the sea, but 
most of its surface is between the altitudes of 7,800 and 9,000 feet. 

When viewed from a distance its summit, projected against the sky, 
looks remarkably smooth and level. The slow increase of altitude from 
north to south may be discerned, and yet, in the absence of positive knowl- 
edge, it would be doubted by the careful observer whether this might not be 
due to perspective, and not real. When we actually visit the plateau we 
find the summit, seeming so smooth when viewed from afar, to be really 




very rugged. It is scored with a minutely ramified system of ravines, vary- 
ing much in depth, but averaging about 300 feet in the heart of the plateau, 
and much deeper at the flanks. The whole summit is magnificently forest- 
clad. In this respect it is in strong contrast to the other plateaus, excepting, 
however, in a much inferior way, the higher parts of the Uinkaret. The 
other plateaus are formidable deserts ; the Kaibab is a paradise. The for- 
ests are due to the superior altitude of the plateau, for the higher the altitude 
the moister the climate. Through the southern portion of the Kaibab is 
cut the finest portion of the Grand Canon. Vast and imposing as is the 
scenery at the foot of the Toroweap, the scenery of the Kaibab is much 
more impressive. I propose in the present chapter to describe, in familiar 
language, a journey from Kanab to the Kaibab, and to the brink of the 
chasm, where we may contemplate its sublimity. 

Before us is the Permian terrace, rising by the gentlest of slopes; 
through it the Kanab River has cut a wide, shallow gap, in which stand 
several pretty little buttes cai'ved sumptviously in the characteristic style of 

Fig. 3.— Section .icross the Kaibab. The Tertical scale is double the horizontal, a, West Kaibab fault, i, East 
Kaibab monocline. Length of section about 32 miles. 






— r^ 







Fig. 4.— Section across the Kaibab. a a', two branches of the West Kaibab fault, b b', two branches of the East 
Kaibab monocline. The vertical scale is double the horizontal. 

the formation. Beyond it the Carboniferous platform extends southward 
without visible bound. Over the Permian terrace the Kaibab is in full 
view, its flat unruffled summit occupying a whole quadrant of the horizon. 


and its western escarpment facing towards us. The light of the dechning 
sun* is upon it, and the larger details stand forth in clear relief, displaying 
the openings of grand ravines and the massive faces of the intervening 

In the course of an hour we pass through the Permian gap, and the 
boundless desert is before us with the Kaibab upon our left. Our route is 
not directly towards the plateau front, but obliquely towards a point in it 
far to the southeast In the portion of the plateau nearest to us there is no 
water, either upon the summit or in the great ravines, and without water 
the journey would be indeed arduous. Moreover, it is the southern portion 
which commands our greatest interest, and the northern part possesses no 
features which are not still more advantageously presented in the southern. 
The southern prospect is very extended. The desert before us is really no 
more uneven than the rolling prairie of Iowa, but the range of vision is 
vastly greater. The reason is soon explained. In the prairie the curvature 
of the earth soon carries the surface out of sight. In the Kanab Desert we 
are constantly looking across a very wide but shallow depression of the 
surface, of which the center is located where Kanab Canon begins to cut into 
the Carboniferous platform. In a word, the earth's surface is here slightly 
concaA^e instead of convex, and the radius vector of the concavity has a 
length varying from 15 to 30 miles. Anywhere within the depression, 
therefore, the prospect is a very wide one. The general impression con- 
veyed is that of a gently undulating plain of immense extent. 

As the sun nears the horizon the desert scenery becomes exquisitely 
beautiful. The deep rich hues of the Permian, the intense red of the Ver- 
milion Cliffs, the lustrous white of the distant Jurassic headlands are greatly 
heightened in tone and seem self-luminous. But more than all, the flood 
of pui'ple and blue which is in the very air, bathing not only the naked 
rock faces, but even the obscurely tinted fronts of the Kaibab and the 

* In midsummer it is best to begin this journey late in the afternoon. The distance between 
watering places is about 40 miles, and when the sun is high the heat upon the open desert is intense. 
The jiacks must be heavy, and if the attempt is made to accomplish the entire distance between sunrise 
and sunset, the animals are liable to be overtaxed, and what may be gained by a long march in a single 
day will be lost subsequently. It is better to start late in the afternoon, march until near midnight, 
and complete the distance to water the next morning. Night traveling is usually to be avoided, but 
here it is the better choice of two evils. 


pale brown of the desert surface, clothes the landscape with its greatest 
charm. It is seen in its climax only in the dying hour of daylight. At 
length the sun disappears and the glory is extinguished. 

Almost instantly the air becomes cool and refreshing, and as we ride 
onward through the deepening twilight it grows even chilly. It matters 
little how hot the days may be, the nights here are always cool and also 
dry. I have known the temperature of the air to be 110° at midday, fall- 
ing to 54° at midnight, without any general atmospheric disturbance or 
change except that which is due to nocturnal radiation. Upon the open 
desert the air is almost always still both by day and night. Rarely do the 
high winds blow over it in summer, and even strong breezes are uncommon 
except in the vicinity of great cliffs. At night the stillness is profound, 
and unless there is water or green vegetation hard by, even the chirping of 
insects is unheard. The only sound which breaks upon the ear is the howl- 
ing of the wolves that prowl about the camp and follow the tracks of the 

The hours roll quickly past as we move onward in the darkness. At 
length when the stars betoken the approach of midnight we halt, strip off 
the packs and saddles, hobble the animals and turn them loose to browse 
upon the scanty herbage. As the sun rises we are once more on the road. 
For ten miles from Kanab the trail descends by a hardly perceptible grade. 
Thence it ascends gradually at a rate of about 150 feet to the mile. From 
the fifteenth to the twenty-third mile it lies in shallow ravines, but at last 
emerges upon more open ground. As we look back towards the north, one 
of the grand spectacles of the Plateau country is disclosed to us. It is a 
view of the great cliffs which bound the southern terraces of the Hidi 
Plateaus rising one above another. Nearly 10,000 feet of strata are 
exposed edgewise and occupy a line of frontage from 50 to 60 miles in 
length It includes the stratigraphic series from the base of the Permian to 
the summit of the Lower Eocene. The view of the terraces from the north, 
from the brink of the Markdgunt or Paunstigunt, is of a very different char- 
acter from this. There we see only their sloping summits with now and then 
a fragment of a mural front swung into view obliquely by the meandering 
course of the line of escarpment. Here the general line of frontage faces 


us while the terrace platforms are invisible. The view is a distant one, but 
it requires great distance to bring into the field of vision an exposure so 
vast. At their nearest points the Permian is 15 miles away, the Trias 20, 
the Jura 35, and the Eocene more than 50. It should be observed that we 
are looking across the broad depression or concavity before spoken of, and 
that there is a gentle slope downwards for 15 miles to the base of the Per- 
mian, which lies 1,900 feet below us. Notwithstanding the distance there 
is no difficulty in distinguishing the difterent formations, and there would 
have been none even if we had never before seen the terraces, provided we 
had become familiar with their several aspects elsewhere ; so strongly indi- 
vidualized are their colors and their sculptural forms. The Cretaceous 
alone is obscure, for in the portions of the terraces now in sight it does 
not form clifis, but breaks down in long slopes covered with soil and debris. 
If we were a few miles farther west the Cretaceous cliff's of the Paria amphi- 
theater would be visible and be as easily determined as the others; but here 
the Kaibab hides them. Although nearly 10,000 feet of strata are disclosed, 
the summit of the Eocene lies only 5,000 to 5,500 feet above the base of 
the Permian, for in the interval between the two exposures the northward 
dip of the whole mass has carried down the Eocene about 5,000 feet. 

From ever}^' elevated point on the Kanab Plateau this magnificent dis- 
play is in full view. All of the broader geological facts in the stratigraphy 
and structure of the terraces may be distinctly seen and interpreted. The 
increment in thickness of the Mesozoic strata towards the west is very plain. 
The effect of the great Sevier fault, which comes down from the High 
Plateaus, cutting across the terrace platforms and disappearing at the Pipe 
Spring promontory of the Vermilion Cliffs, is now visible. By a simple 
reconstruction, lifting up the thrown side of this fault and gradually depress- 
ing the westward extension of the strata until the Eocene is horizontal, we 
can restore mentally the whole mass to the attitude it held in Eocene time, 
and it will require but a slight effort of the imagination. to detect the origi- 
nal configuration which determined the present positions of the drainage 
basins of the Virgen, Kanab, and Paria Rivers. With a measured base- 
line extending east and west upon this part of the Kanab Plateau, and with 
a fine large theodolite, it would be practicable to make a 11 the measure- 





ments necessary for determining the masses and positions of the several 
stratigraphic members Avith a degree of accuracy not materially less than 
could be obtained by studying them upon their own ground. 

A spectacle of this kind is most impressive to the geologist. It brings 
into one view the co-ordinated results of observations made laboriously by 
months of travel and inspection in a very broad and rugged field. The 
great distances through which the eye can reach, the aspect of cliffs tower- 
ing above and beyond cliffs, the great cumulative altitude thus attained, the 
immensity of the masses revealed, the boldness of form, the distinctness of 
the lines of stratification, and especially the brilliant coloring, subdued in- 
deed, but also refined by the haze, give to the scene a grandeur which has 
few pax'allels. 

But we turn our backs upon it, and pursue our way, pausing anon to 
look at it with a reverent enthusiasm. The daylight discloses the western 
Kaibab wall upon our left, only five or six miles distant, and our course 
changes from southeast to south parallel to its front. Already we feel the 
influences of its long spurs sweeping outward and dying away in the desert 
platform, and the trail becomes more hilly. Once or twice it takes us down 
into ravines which are the continuations of the great chasms which cut it to 
its base and recede far into its mass, winding out of sight in profound depths. 
Vegetation has made its appearance all around us, not abundantly, indeed, 
but sufficiently to contrast with the desolation behind us. Upon the crest 
of the plateau we can see the giant pines and spruces, and we covet their 
luxurious shade. Nearer, on either hand, are piuons and cedars, mountain 
mahogany and mesquite, with many low forms of desert shrubbery. Many 
species of cactus are seen, the most abundant of which are the opuntias, or 
prickly pears. Of these there are four or five very common species. A 
large cactus "orchard" in blossom is a very beautiful sight, displaying 
flowers which, for beauty of form and richness of color, are seldom sur- 
passed by the choicer gems of the conservatory. Nor is it less attractive 
when in the fruit, for it yields a multitude of purple "pears," which are 
very juicy and refreshing, and by no means contemptible in flavor. There 
is another form of cactus not likely to be forgotten by anybody who has 
once seen it, and which is very common on the Kanab desert. It is a stout 


bush, with many branches, growing from 3 to 6 feet high. The trunk and 
branches have a hard, woody core, and are thickly fringed with rows of 
strong, sharp spines which present a very ferocious aspect Altogether it is 
the most truculent-looking member of the vegetable kingdom I happen to 
be acquainted with. Very common, too, are the yuccas, or " Spanish bay- 
onets," which resemble, on a small scale, the noted agave or century plant. 
Another common species, somewhat resembling the last, bears a cluster of 
melon-like seed cases of the size and form of cucumbers, which the Indians 
gather and dry for food.* 

At length the trail leads down into "Stewart's Canon," a rather broad 
canon valley descending towards us from the south. Just where we enter 
it it turns sharply to the west, forming an elbow, and, sinking thence ever 
deeper into the earth through a course of fifteen miles, it opens at last into 
the heart of Kanab Canon at a depth of nearly 3,500 feet. Here at the 
elbow it is comparatively shallow. Before reaching the elbow it runs north- 
ward close to the base of the Kaibab wall, which rises more than 1,200 feet 
above its floor, while the opposite or western side is only about 400 feet 
high. The difference in the altitudes of the two sides is accounted for by 
the presence of the west Kaibab fault, which runs at the foot of the wall, 
throwing down the western side more than 800 feet. The geological rela- 
tions here are worthy of some study. The presence of the fault is detected 
in a moment. Upon the western side the familiar grey limestones of the 
Upper Aubrey series form the entire wall. Upon the eastern side the same 
beds are seen upon the summit more than 800 feet higher than on the west- 
ern side. Beneath them is the hard cross-bedded sandstone, and still lower 
down the brilliant red sandy shales of the lower Aubrey. Here, too, is seen 
that curious phenomenon so often presented in connection with the faults 
of this region. As the thrown beds approach the fault plane they are 
turned down 

The trail leads southward up Stewart's Canon with an ascent that is 
barely perceptible. We become conscious of increasing altitude indirectly 
by the barometer and by the change in the vegetation. The desert shrubs 

* The Mormons find a singular use for this plant. The pounded root, macerated in water, yields 
a thick liquid which mates a very good substitute for soap. 


GRAXD CAS'ON district. PL. XXV. 



have mostly disappeared and given place to the scrub-oaks and weeds which 
are the unfailing indications of a cooler and moister climate. But the most 
welcome sight is the close proximity of the yellow pines which stand upon 
the summit above and even upon the lower platform which looks down from 
the western side. As yet they do not grow in the valley bottom. We have 
not quite reached the Kaibab, though it is close at hand— nay, we pass right 
by its open gates which seem to invite us in with a welcome ; for at intervals 
of a mile or two we perceive upon the left the openings of grand ravines 
leading up to its platform, and the moment we enter any one of them we 
are within the precincts of the great plateau. Stewart's Canon is the trunk 
valley which receives the drainage of a considerable section of the western 
side of the Kaibab. The large affluents all come from the east, and none 
of any importance from the west. 

About five miles from the point where the trail enters the valley we 
reach the first water— a tiny stream coming down from one of the great 
ravines and sinking into the soil a few hundred yards beyond the mouth. 
Halting long enough to allow the animals to drink, we move onward about 
two miles further up the valley and make camp. Here there comes out ot 
the Kaibab wall, about 300 feet above us, a stream of water as large as a 
man's body, which cascades down the rocks into a pool covering half an 
acre. There is a phenomenon here worth noticing, for it is a prelude to some 
very singular facts of general prevalence throughout this wonderful plateau. 
Across the outlet of the pool a rude dam has been constructed of stones and 
mud, which may be easily torn open or replaced. When the dam is open a 
large stream equal to the influx pours out of it, but the whole outpour sinks 
within a quarter of a mile. When the dam is closed the water in the pool 
rises about 15 inches, and there is no outflow. All the water which enters the 
pool then sinks along the newly submerged margin. A stream of that size 
anywhere else in the Plateau Country would ordinarilyrun eight or ten miles, 
and in a moist country would run much further. The sudden sinking of 
streams is by no means rare, but is generally exceptional. On the Kaibab 
it is the rule. Upon all its broad expanse there is nothing which can be 
properly called a brook or living stream. About a dozen springs are known, 
but their waters in every instance sink in the earth within a few hundred 


yards of their sources. And the "Big Spring" in Stewart's Canon yields 
several times as much water as all the others put together. With this fore- 
knowledge the prospects of water supply upon the Kaibab might seem dis- 
couraging, but we shall not suffer for the want of it. 

Although the sun is still high when the Big Spring is reached, nothing 
will be gained by prolonging the day's march, and it is well to take a look 
at the surroundings. In some way, without knowing exactly when and 
where, we seem to have gotten into the Kaibab; for around us is the sylvan 
scenery and a rolling country traversed by many valleys and ravines. 
True, they are not the finest types, but when we recall the desert we have 
just left, this place looks like a paradise. The barometer shows a consider- 
able altitude, 7,850 feet, and the air though warm is not oppressive. As we 
approached the plateau from the desert and saw its battlements towering 
grandly in the distance and becoming hourly more grand, its level parapet 
retreating into indefinite distance, in either direction, it never occurred to 
us that we might be spared the arduous struggle of scaling the wall, or, as 
a still more arduous alternative, the forcing of a rough passage through 
some narrow ravine for many miles. Yet we have reached this spot by a 
route as easy as an old fashioned turnpike. In truth, the configuration of 
the southern part of the Kaibab could not be discerned as we approached 
it from the north But, putting togetlier the observations of the journey, it 
now becomes apparent that the platform of the Kanab Plateau rises quite 
rapidly towards the south, while the Kaibab gains in altitude much more 
slowly. Opposite our last camp the difference in the altitudes of the two 
plateaus is about 2,300 feet. Here it has greatly diminished, and the pas- 
sage from one to the other is now partly by a very gentle inclined plane 
and partly by a fault. Fifteen miles further south the fault vanishes or be- 
comes insignificant, and the passage is by a long slope.* 

Resuming in the morning the route up Stewart's Canon, a half-liour's 

*It may be remarked Lere that every fault in the district is accompanied with a corresponding 
break in the topography. A clifif or steei^ slope is prodiiced by it. I do not recall an instance where 
the lifted beds are planed off by erosion, so as to make a continuous level with the thrown beds. The 
cliffs generated by displacement have a character of their own which the experienced observer distin- 
guishes quickly and confidently from cliffs of erosion. These characteristic breaks in the topography 
often betray a fault in localities where it would otherwise havo been passed over unnoticed and unsus- 


ride brings us to an abandoned saw-mill. Here the trail leaves the valley 
which we have followed for ten miles and tm-ns up into a large ravine com- 
ing from the east or southeast. It is much narrower than Stewart's Canon, 
with very abrupt and almost precipitous walls about 600 feet high. The 
traveler in the Plateau Province learns to dread the necessity which compels 
him to thread a deep gorge or canon unless he knows beforehand that there 
is a practicable and easy trail through it. If it is dry it is almost certain 
to be obstructed by fallen fragments and thickly set with scrub, its bottom 
scoured into rough gullies by the sudden floods ; and half the time it will 
be necessary to mount the steep talus and thread it. If it carries a living 
stream the way is still worse, for, in addition to the foregoing difficulties, 
there are dangerous quicksands, impenetrable thickets of willows and thorny 
bushes, and the stream meanders from wall to wall. Unless there is a good 
trail the traveler will usually prefer to movmt the cliff, if a break can be 
found in it, and seek the mesa above, and thus by a single struggle get rid 
of the miseries below. Not so the ravines of the Kaibab. Like the paths 
trodden by the pilgrims in the Delectable Mountains, "their ways are 
pleasantness and all their paths are peace." The ravine we enter is but a 
fair specimen of a vast number of them which cover the whole broad sur- 
face of the plateau with an infinite network of ramifications. Its bottom 
is covered with a carpet of grass and flowers growing rankly in a smooth 
firm soil free from rocks and undergrowth. Here and there a clump of 
aspens or noble pines grow in the way, but offer no obstacles to progress. 
It is like riding through a well-kept park or an avenue shaded by ancient 
trees. And now the effect of the absence of streams becomes manifest. 
Not only are there no perennial brooks, but there are no indications that 
even in the time of heavy rains or melting snow any notable amount of 
water ever runs in these channels. Yet the Kaibab is a moist region. In 
summer the rains are fi-equent and in winter the snow lies deep. Horses 
cannot winter there, and the wild cattle and deer, late in October, abandon 
it and seek the lower regions around its flanks. In all other plateaus or 
mountain ranges of equal mass and altitude and with equal precipitation 
there are many goodly streams, and even large creeks, fed throughout the 
summer by numberless copious springs; and when the snows melt these 


streams become raging torrents. But so rare are the indications of running 
water on the Kaibab, even in times of melting snow or of vernal rains, that 
whenever we find a " wash" we look at it with surprise as if it were a 
strange phenomenon demanding special explanation. But the very absence 
of these traces of running water constitutes one of the greatest charms of 
the Kaibab, for every ravine is as smooth as a lawn and carpeted with a 
turf of mountain grass, richly decked with flowers of rare beauty and lux- 

The great trees grow chiefly upon the main platform above us. Ex- 
cept in the highest part of the plateau they are mostly the yellow pine 
{Firms ponderosa), but large spruces are also common (Abies grandis, A. 
Engelmanni). Upon the flanks of the ravines they also grow, the pines upon 
the northern or sunny side, the spruces upon the opposite. In the valley 
bottom they grow scatteringly, and for the most part leave it quite open. 
Contrasting finely with these are the aspens {Popidus tremuloides), ^vith their 
white trunks and pale green foliage. Throughout the greater part of the 
plateau these three genera comprise all the arboreal forms that occur. But 
upon its borders we also find cedars, mountain mahogany, and piiion (Junip- 
erus occidentalis, Cercocarpus ledifolitis, and Piniis edulis), the latter, though 
classed as a pine, difi'ering greatly from the more typical forms of the genus. 

The ravine, where we enter its mouth, is about 600 feet in depth. The 
ascent is by a very easy grade, averaging about 100 feet to the mile. As 
we progress it becomes shallower, but not so rapidly as the grade might 
indicate, for the plateau summit also rises, though at a lower grade, towards 
the east. The course is a crooked one, but none the less agreeable on that 
account. Every traveler on foot or horseback has probably observed how 
tiresome and monotonous the road becomes when he can see it stretching 
away before him for many miles, and how charming the diversity when it 
wanders hither and thither. It matters not if the successive vistas are as 
much alike as two turns of a kaleidoscope, there is always an impatience to 
see what is beyond the next turn. So it is here. The successive scenes 
are much alike, or change by insensible degrees, but the same general view 
is presented in ever-varying detail, and its subject-matter is always delight- 


It is difficult to say precisely wherein the charm of the sylvan scenery 
of the Kaibab consists. We, who through successive summers have wan- 
dered through its forests and parks, have come to regard it as the most en- 
chanting region it has ever been our privilege to visit. Surely there is no 
lack of beautiful or grand forest scenery in America, and it is a matter of 
taste what species of trees are the most pleasing. Probably few people 
would select the conifers and poplars as the highest types of arboreal beauty. 
I suspect that the charm consists in influences far more subtle than these 
outward forms. The delicious climate, neither cold nor hot, neither wet 
nor excessively dry, but always exhilarating, is a fundamental condition by 
virtue of which the body and mind are brought into the most susceptible 
mood. The ease with which we move from place to place, the absence of 
all anxiety or care for the three great requisites of camp life — fuel, water, 
and grass — are accessory conditions. The contrast of the desert, with its 
fatigue, its numberless discomforts and privations, is still another. But the 
scenery is also very beautiful in itself The trees are large and noble in 
aspect and stand widely apart, except in the highest parts of the plateau, 
where the spruces predominate. Instead of dense thickets, where we are 
shut in by impenetrable foliage, we can look far beyond and see the tree 
trunks vanishing away like an infinite colonnade. The ground is unob- 
structed and inviting. There is a constant succession of parks and glades — 
dreamy avenues of grass and flowers winding between sylvan walls, or 
spreading out in broad open meadows. From June until September there 
is a display of wild flowers which is quite beyond description. The valley 
sides and platforms above are resplendent with dense masses of scarlet, 
white, purple, and yellow. It is noteworthy that, while the trees exhibit 
but few species, the humbler plants present a very great number, both of 
species and genera. In the upper regions of the High Plateaus, Mr. Lester 
F. Ward collected in a single season more than 600 species of plants, and 
the Kaibab, though offering a much smaller range of altitude and climate, 
would doubtless yield as rich a flora in proportion to the diversity of its 

At a distance of about eight miles from its mouth, the ravine we have 
chosen has become very shallow, with gently sloping sides. At length we 


leave it and ascend its right bank to the upper platform. The way here is 
as pleasant as before, for it is beneath the pines standing at intervals, vary- 
ing from 50 to 100 feet, and upon a soil that is smooth, firm, and free from 
undergrowth. All is open, and we may look far into the depths of the forest 
on either hand. We now perceive that the surface of the. plateau undulates 
with rolling hills and gently depressed vales. These valleys are the rami- 
fications of the di'ainage channels. They are innumerable and cover the 
entire surface of the plateau. The main channels all deepen as they 
approach the edges of the plateau and often attain considerable depth, be- 
coming at the same time precipitous. The deepest are those whicli emerge 
near the elbow of Stewart's Canon and north of that point. These attain 
depths exceeding a thousand feet. The ravines which descend towards the 
eastern flank of the plateau terminate in a different manner, which we shall 
see hereafter. In the interior parts of the plateau these drainage valleys 
are all shallow, rarely exceeding 300 or 400 feet in depth, and seldom 

After two or three miles upon the summit, the trail descends into 
another valley, whose course we follow upward for about seven miles. At 
the distance of about twenty miles from Stewart's Canon, we find that we 
have gained about 1,400 feet of altitude, and that the vegetation has changed 
its aspect somewhat. The pines, though still abundant, are now in the 
minority, and the spruces and aspens greatly predominate. The spruces 
form dense thickets on either hand, which nothing but the direst necessity 
would ever induce us to enter. Of this genus there are several species, 
varying much in habit. The great firs (Abies grancUs, A. Engelinanni) are 
exceedingly beautiful on account of their sumptuous foliage. But the most 
common species is a smaller one (A. suhalpina)^ with a tall and straight 
trunk, its branches spreading only five or six feet. These trees cluster so 
thickly together that a passage through them is extremely difficult and 
sometimes impossible. But we are not constrained to attempt it, for they 
seldom grow in the valley bottoms. Again we leave the ravine, and wind- 
ing about among the hills, passing from glade to glade, we at length find 
ourselves upon the summit of a long slope, which descends rapidly into a 
great park, the largest on the Kailiab. It has received the name of 










Its length is about teu miles, its average width about two miles. It is 
a depressed area in the heart of the plateau and is on every side girt about 
by more elevated ground rising l)y strong slopes 300 or 400 feet above its 
floor. The borders and heights above are densely forest-clad, but not a 
tree stands within the park itself Descending into its basin and proceeding 
southward about two and a half miles, we reach a little spring where we 
make camp. The distance from the Big Spring to Stewai't's Canon is about 
26 miles by trail. 

De Motte Park is eminently adapted to be the "base of operations" in 
a campaign of geological investigation upon the southern part of the Kaibab. 
It is a central locality from which we may radiate in any direction to the 
bounds of the plateau. Here the great bulk of the supplies may be depos- 
ited, and from the supply camp we make journeys with light packs for one, 
two, or thi-ee days, as it may suit the convenience, and to it we may return 
to fit out for another short trip. The circumstances which make the park 
so advantageous in this respect are worth reciting. 

Notwithstanding the open character of the forest there are two diffi- 
culties in the way of travel on the Kaibab. The first has already been 
mentioned, scarcity of water. We know of about a dozen small springs, 
some of them conveniently located for the purposes of the explorer, others 
not. There is, however, another source o"f water supply which will be de- 
scribed presently. The second difficulty is the danger of getting lost and 
bewildered in the forest. This may seem to be a singular source of danger 
for an explorer, who of all men is bound to know his exact whereabouts at 
every step. But if he were to visit the Kaibab with that easy confidence 
and without a guide he would probably learn a severe lesson in less than 
a fortnight. The young Mormon herders who range over this region, and 
who follow a trail with the keen instincts of Indians, and with more than 
an Indian's intelligence, dread the mazes of the forest until they come to 
know them. Even the Indians who live and hunt there during the summer 
and autumn have sad tales about comrades lost when the snows came early 
and buried the trails so that they could not be followed. The bewildering 


character arises from the monotony of the scenery. There are hundreds of 
hills and gulches, but they all look alike. There are no landmarks except 
trees, which are worse than none at all. If you enter a ravine for the 
second time at a point other than that at which you first entered it you 
would probably fail to recognize it. As with the faces of the Chinese, no 
conscientious white man would be willing to swear that he had ever seen 
any particular one before. Yet the riddle of the Kaibab is soon solved, and, 
once read, all danger is over. If the traveler is lost there is an infallible 
clew. He must go at once to De Motte Park. But how shall he find the 
way? If he has reason to suppose that he is within a dozen miles of it he 
has only to enter a main ravine and follow it to its head. This, however, 
does not apply to the portions of the plateau which lie more than five miles 
north of the park. The way may be long, but is easy and sure. A few 
ravines fade out before reaching the near neighborhood of the park. In 
that event take the nearest one on the right or left. All of them head upon 
the summit which looks down into the park. It is necessary, however, to 
keep to the main ravine and avoid its minor tributaries, and there is a crite- 
rion by which it may be distinguished At the confluence of a lateral 
ravine the grade of the main ravine is always the less of the two. 

Although this may seem to be nothing more than a trivial bit of wood- 
craft, it really illustrates an important fact — the drainage system of a large 
portion of the Kaibab. The study of this drainage system will shed some 
light upon the geological history not only of the plateau itself, but of the 
region adjoining, and of the Grand Canon. 

The thought which must be predominant in the mind of one who for 
the first time enters the Kaibab is of the Grand Canon. The fame of its 
grandeur is world-wide, and the desii-e to see it as it is grows stronger the 
nearer he approaches to it. This longing must be at least tempered, if not 
wholly satisfied, before the mind is in the humor to contemplate anything 
else. Our first expedition, then, shall be to the brink of the great abyss. 

As the sun is rising and before his beams have penetrated to the bot- 
tom of the park we ai-e on the way. On either hand is the forest, covering 
the slopes and the heights above, but ending suddenly at the foot of every 
incline. Before us to the southward stretches the open field with hardly an 


:^i^ii-t 2 




undulation. Six or seven miles away we can see the sylvan walls approach 
each other, leaving a narrow gateway between the tall spruces where the 
surface of the ground for a moment is sharply projected against the sky. 
The scene is, on the whole, a very attractive one. There is a great wealth 
of vegetation, somber indeed, and monotonous, but the darkness of the tone 
is suggestive of depth and richness of color. The only alleviating contrast 
is between the smooth expanse of the park and the myriads of sharp spikes 
which terminate the tree tops. The spirit of the scene is a calm, serene, 
and gentle one, touched with a tinge of solemnity and melancholy. 

About a mile from camp we came upon an object worthy of attention. 
It is a rather deep depression in the earth about 200 feet across and very 
nearly circular. Within it is a large pool of water. Its depth below the 
valley floor may be about 40 feet, and the depth of the water fj or 6 feet 
in the middle. It is a fair specimen of a frequent occurrence upon the 
Kaibab. I have never seen them elsewhere, and the explanation is difficult. 
The interest lies in the mystery of their origin. In every day's ride we 
usually find three or four of them and sometimes more. Some of them con- 
tain water, but the majority do not. Some hold water throughout the year, 
some only in the early summer or until autumn. They vary in size and 
depth very considerably. Some are as narrow as 20 feet; some are 300 to 
400 feet across. The depths vary from a yard or two to a hundred feet. 
The form is crater-like — always approximately circular. They do not 
appear to occur under any special set of conditions. They are found as 
often upon the platforms as in the valleys, and are not uncommon upon the 
slopes of the ravines. In a few instances traces may be seen of rain gullies 
or washes leading into them, but not often, and none have ever been noted 
leading out of them. Whatever running water may enter them sinks within 
their basins; but it is certain that many of them rarely receive any running 
water. In the cases of those which do the wonder is that they do not soon 
fill up with sand and silt, for the water generated by heavy rain-storms or 
by melting snows, when sufficient in volume to run in a stream, is always 
tJiick with mud. The scarcity of running water on the Kaibab has been 
mentioned. Yet the precipitation is comparatively great and the evapora- 
tion small. It is apparent that all the water which falls upon its vast 


expanse, witli the exception of a slight percentage evaporated, must sink 
into the earth, where it is doubtless gathered in subterranean drainage 
channels, which open in the profound depths of the great amphitheaters of 
the Grand Canon. In those depths are large creeks of perennial water 
issuing from the openings of those undergi'ound passages. This implies a 
system of subterranean rivulets, but it is not more wonderful than the end- 
less caverns in the limestones of Kentucky and Indiana, and it is probably 
not upon so large a scale nor so greatly ramified. It also argues a high 
degree of permeability both in the upper strata and in the overmantling 
soil. The water sifts through them as easily as through sand, and rarely 
gathers into streams even in the most copious showers or most rapid melting 
of the snow. Whether these "lagoons" and "sink-holes," as we termed 
them, are the openings of pipes leading down into the subterranean rivers, 
and kept open by a gradual solution of the limestone, it is difficult to say. 
There are some difficulties in the way of this theory. 

Moving rapidl}^ southward, at length we reach the Sylvan Gate at the 
lower end. Passing through we immediately fiiul ourselves at the head of 
a second park very similar to De Motte's, but smaller, having a length of 
nearly three miles. It is named Little De Motte Park, and the Sylvan Gate 
occupies a divide between the two. It contains a large lagoon holding stag- 
nant water. There is a chain of these parks reaching from the northern 
end of De Motte's southward, a distance of 25 miles, separated only by 
necks of forest. 

Our first objective point is a spring situated in one of the large ravines 
which head in the heights overlooking these two parks. Without some 
foreknowledge of the way to reach it, or without a guide, it would be im- 
possible to find it, and the same is true of any other sf)ring on tlie summit, 
but with this foreknowledge we seek the southwestern border of Little De 
Motte and enter the timber. During half an hour there is a miserable 
struggle with fallen trees and thick-set branches of spruce and aspen, but 
at length the heights are gained, and we descend into a shallow ravine, 
where the way is once more open. The winding glade, with smooth bot- 
tom richly carpeted with long green g)-ass, aglow with myriads of beautiful 
blossoms, is before us, and the tall trees are on either hand. Soon it leads 


into a larger one, and this into another, until at last the main ravine is 
reached. Very sweet and touching now are the influences of nature. The 
balmj^ air, the dark and somber spruces, the pale-green aspens, the golden 
shafts of sunlight shot through their foliage, the velvet sward— surely this 
is the home of the woodland nymphs, and at every turn of the way we can 
fancy we are about to see them flying at our approach or peeping at us from 
the flowery banks. 

By half-past ten the spring is reached. Nest to the Big Spring in 
Stewart's Canon, it is the largest on the summit of the plateau. Here, 
too, is the only semblance of running water, for the stream flows a little 
more than half a mile before it sinks. The water is cold and delicious. It 
has a faint whitish cast, like that which would be produced by putting a 
drop or two of milk into a bucket of pure water. I presume it is caused by 
a fine precipitate of lime. We called it the "Milk Spring." Pausing here 
for a hasty lunch, and to fill the kegs (for to-night we may make a "dry" 
camp), we push on. We climb out of the ravine, and in fact we only came 
here to obtain water, as it is the only place near to the point of destination 
at which water can be procured. The route now becomes more rugged, 
leading across ravines and over intervening ridges, crossing the grain of the 
country, so to speak. But it is not difficult, for the pines have taken place 
of the spruces, and where the pines predominate the forest is very open. 
For eight miles from the Milk Spring we continue to cross hills and valleys, 
then follow a low swale shaded by giant pines with trunks three to fom- feet 
in thickness. The banks are a parterre of flowers. On yonder hillside, 
beneath one of these kingly trees, is a spot which seems to glow with an 
unwonted wealth of floral beauty. It is scarcely a hundred yards distant; 
let us pluck a bouquet from it. We ride u.p the slope. 

The earth suddenly sinks at our feet to illimitable depths. In an instant, 
in the twinkling of an eye, the awful scene is before us. 



Abrupt disclosure of the spectacle. — Point Sublime. — The Grand CaQon an innovation in modern ideas. 
Familiarity required for a just appreciation. — Erroneous nature of preconceived notions. — Width 
of the chasm.— Extent of the panorama. — Vastneas of its component objects. — Their multitude.— 
The infinity of details. — The grandeur and splendor of the buttes. — Lateral amphitheaters or 
side gorges. — Architectural styles of decoration. — The Cloisters. — Shiva's Temple. — Profusion of 
grand objects. — Color effects. — Atmospheric effects. — Sensitiveness of the picture to variations of 
light and shadow. — Effects of shadows and optical delusions. — The western haze. — Modulations 
of the picture through the day. — Sunset in the chasm. — The climax of the day. — Twilight. 

Wherever we reach the Grand Canon in the Kaibab it bursts upon the 
vision in a moment. Seldom is any warning given that we are near the 
brink. At the Toroweap it is quite otherwise. There we are notified that 
we are near it a day before we reach it. As the final march to that portion 
of the chasm is made the scene gradually develops, growing by insensible 
degrees more grand until at last we stand upon the brink of the inner gorge, 
where all is before us. In the Kaibab the forest reaches to the sharp edge 
of the cliff and the pine trees shed their cones into the fathomless depths 

If the approach is made at random, with no idea of reaching any par- 
ticular point by a known route, the probabilities are- that it is first seen from 
the rim of one of the vast amphitheaters which set back from the main chasm 
far into the mass of the plateau. It is such a point to which the reader has 
been brought in the preceding chapter. Of course there are degrees in the 
magnitude and power of the pictures presented, but the smallest and least 
powerful is tremendous and too great for comprehension. The scenery of 
the amphitheaters far surpasses in grandeur and nobility anything else of 
the kind in any other region, but it is mere by-play in comparison with the 
panorama displayed in the heart of the cailon. The supreme vieAvs are to be 
obtained at the extremities of the long promontories, which jut out between 



these recesses fai- into the gulf. Towards such a point we now direct our 
steps. The one we have chosen is on the whole the most commanding in 
the Kaibab front, though there are several others which might be regarded 
as very nearty equal to it, or as even more imposing in some respects. We 
named it Point Sublime. 

The route is of the same character as that we have already traversed — 
open pine forest, with smooth and gently-rolling ground. The distance 
from the point where we first touched the rim of the amphitheater is about 
5 miles. Nothing is seen of the chasm until about a mile from the end we 
come once more upon the brink. Reaching the extreme verge the packs 
are cast off, and sitting upon the edge we contemplate the most sublime and 
awe-inspiring spectacle in the world. 

The Grand Canon of the Colorado is a great innovation in modern 
ideas of scenery, and in our conceptions of the grandeur, beauty, and 
power of nature. As with all great innovations it is not to be comprehended 
in a day or a week, nor even in a month. It must be dwelt upon and 
studied, and the study must comprise the slow acquisition of the meaning 
and spirit of that marvelous scenery which characterizes the Plateau Coun- 
try, and of which the great chasm is the superlative manifestation. The 
study and slow mastery of the influences of that class of scenery and its 
full appreciation is a special culture, requiring time, patience, and long 
familiarity for its consummation. The lover of nature, whose perceptions 
have been trained in the Alps, in Italy, Germany, or New England, in the 
Appalachians or Cordilleras, in Scotland or Colorado, would enter this 
strange region with a shock, and dwell there for a time with a sense of 
oppression, and perhaps with horror. Whatsoever things he had learned to 
regard as beautiful and noble he would seldom or never see, and whatsoever 
he might see would appear to him as anything but beautiful and noble. 
Whatsoever might be bold and striking would at first seem only grotesque. 
The colors would be the very ones he had leai-ned to shun as tawdry and 
bizarre. The tones and shades, modest and tender, subdued yet rich, in 
which his fancy had always taken special delight, would be the ones which 
are conspicuously absent. But time would bring a gradual change. Some 
day he would suddenly become conscious that outlines which at first seemed 



liarsh and trivial have grace and meaning; that forms which seemed grotesque 
are full of dignity; that magnitudes which had added enormity to coarse- 
ness have become replete with strength and even majesty; that colors which 
had been esteemed uni'efined, immodest, and glaring, are as expressive, 
tender, changeful, and capacious of effects as any others. Great innova- 
tions, whether in art or literature, in science or in nature, seldom take the 
world by storm. They must be understood before they can be estimated, 
and must be cultivated before they can be understood. 

It is so with the Grand Canon. The observer who visits its command- 
ing points with the expectation of experiencing forthwith a rapturous exal- 
tation, an ecstasy arising from the realization of a degree of grandeur and 
sublimity never felt before, is doomed to disappointment. Supposing him 
to be but little familiar with plateau scenery, he will be simply bewildered. 
Must he, therefore, pronounce it a failure, an overpraised thing? Must he 
entertain a just resentment towards those who maj- have raised his expecta- 
tions too high ! The answer is that subjects which disclose their full power, 
meaning, and beauty as soon as they are presented to the mind have very 
little of those qualities to disclose. Moreover, a visitor to the chasm or to 
any other famous scene must necessarily come there (for so is the human 
mind constituted) with a picture of it created by his own imagination. He 
reaches the spot, the conjured picture vanishes in an instant, and the place 
of it must be filled anew. Surely no imagination can construct out of its 
own material any picture having the remotest resemblance to the Grand 
Canon. In truth, the first step in attempting a description is to beg the 
reader to dismiss from his mind, so far as practicable, any preconceived 
notion of it. 

Those who have long and carefully studied the Grand Canon of the 
Colorado do not hesitate for a moment to pronounce it by far the most sub- 
lime of all earthly spectacles. If its sublimity consisted only in its dimen- 
sions, it could be sufficiently set forth in a single sentence. It is more than 
200 miles long, from 5 to 12 miles wide, and from 5,000 to 6,000 feet deep. 
There are in the world valleys which are longer and a few which are deeper. 
There are valleys flanked by summits loftier than the palisades of the Kai- 

CKA.vri c.ixox r>isini( T ri.. xxna. 



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• lUri J I 


W f) 

y ^i^g 



li. C. Enstom ClniBtpr. 
F. S;iii Fraiuiaro Mount. 
K. Mnmit KfUiiriirki. 


H. Himlnn AnipIiUIiralir. 
S_ Sliiva'H Temple. 
R. Cape Royiil, 


1. flicrly linii-aloiic. 

"!. Cpin-r Aiilin'V liniestiiup. 

I. Ci<>.^H.Ii<'<Icli'<rMmcUtiin>-. 

I Liiwir Aulucy Hiiuilatuiieg. 

5. Fpni^r Ki>(t Willi. 

(I. lii-il Wnll limi'Htoini*. 

1. Lower C'ni'liDiiit't-ruuti .stliiiUtoiics. 



bab. Still the Grrand Caflon is the sublimest thing on earth. It is so not 
alone by virtue of its magnitudes, but by virtue of the whole — its ensemble. 

The common notion of a caiion is that of a deep, narrow gash in the 
earth, with nearly vertical walls, like a great and neatly cut trench. There 
are hundreds of chasms in the Plateau Country which answer very well to 
this notion. Many of them are sunk to frightful depths and are fifty to a 
hundred miles in length. Some are exceedingly narrow, as the canons of 
the forks of the Virgen, where the overhanging walls shut out the sky. 
Some are intricately sculptured, and illuminated with brilliant colors; others 
are picturesque by reason of their bold and striking sculpture. A few of 
them are most solemn and impressive by reason of their profundity and the 
majesty of their walls. But, as a rule, the common canons are neither 
grand nor even attractive. Upon first acquaintance they are curious and 
awaken interest as a new sensation, but they soon grow tiresome for want 
of diversity, and become at last mere bores. The impressions they produce 
are very transient, because of their great simplicity and the hmited range 
of ideas they present. But there are some which are highly diversified, pre- 
senting many attractive features. These seldom grow stale or wearisome, 
and their presence is generally greeted with pleasure. 

It is perhaps in some respects unfortunate that the stupendous path- 
way of the Colorado River through the Kaibabs was ever called a canon, 
for the name identifies it with the baser conception. But the name presents 
as wide a range of signification as the word house. The log cabin of the 
rancher, the painted and vine-clad cottage of the mechanic, the home of the 
millionaire, the places where parliaments assemble, and the grandest tem- 
ples of worship, are all houses. Yet the contrast between Saint Marc's and 
the rude dwelling of the frontiersman is not greater than that between the 
chasm of the Colorado and the trenches in the rocks which answer to the 
ordinary conception of a canon. And as a great cathedral is an immense 
development of the rudimentary idea involved in the four walls and roof of 
a cabin, so is the chasm an expansion of the simple type of drainage chan- 
nels pecuhar to the Plateau Country. To the conception of its vast propor- 
tions must be added some notion of its intricate plan, the nobility of its 
architecture, its colossal buttes, its wealth of ornamentation, the splendor of 


its colors, and its wondtrful atmosphere. All of these attributes combine 
with infinite complexity to produce a whole which at first bewilders and at 
length overpowers. 

From the end of Point Sublime, the distance across the chasm to the 
nearest point in the summit of the opposite wall is about 7 miles. This, 
however, does not fairly express the width of the chasm, for both walls 
are recessed by wide amphitheaters, setting far back into the platform 
of the country, and the promontories are comparatively narrow strips be- 
tween them. A more correct statement of the general width would be 
from 11 to 12 miles. This must dispose at once of the idea that the 
chasm is a narrow gorge of immense depth and simple form. It is some- 
what unfortunate that there is a prevalent idea that in some way an 
essential part of the grandeur of the Grand Canon is the narrowness of its 
defiles. Much color has been given to this notion by the first illustrations 
of the canon from the pencil of Egloff'stein in the celebrated report of Lieu- 
tenant Ives. Never was a great subject more artistically misrepresented 
or more charmingly belittled. Nowhere in the Kaibab section is any such 
extreme narrowness observable, and even in the Uinkaret section the width 
of the great inner gorge is a little greater than the depth. In truth, a little 
reflection will show that such a character would be inconsistent with the 
hiffhest and strono^est effects. For it is obvious that some notable width is 
necessary to enable the eye to see the full extent of the walls. In a chasm 
one mile deep, and only a thousand feet wide, this would be quite impos- 
sible. If we compare the Marble Canon or the gorge at the Toroweap with 
wider sections it will at once be seen that the wider ones are much stronger. 
If we compare one of the longer alcoves having a width of 3 or 4 miles witli 
the view across the main chasm the advantage will be overwhelmingly with 
the latter. It is evident that for the display of wall surface of given dimen- 
sions a certain amount of distance is necessary. We tnaj be too near or 
too far for the right appreciation of its magnitude and proportions. The 
distance must bear some ratio to the magnitude. But at what precise limit 
this distance must in the present case be fixed is not easy to determine. It 
can hardly be doubted that if the canon were materially narrower it would 
suffer a loss of grandeur and effect. 

r. .9. CFOLOCfCAL Sl-RfEV. 


A. mmViliiam'sPt^ak. 

li. Tuwi-iM.iBiilwl 

U. r.i|„i,i.l.. Kivi-i- 

K, M..,iuf Fluvd. 

G. Moiiut SitgreavcH. 
1. luiiur florup. 
T. T. Twin T.-mpl.-H. 
W.C. W.Ht Cluiau-r. 

1. (;iterl.v lim.Ntouo. l'4l) *'•'■'■. „ij t, 

unKlXi, SOU'i'H. 

•i.. tlpii.T Allium liinrti«'iu-. '^-y' 
:i. Cnmn-bii(liU-(l Kaiid«toiii-, :iaOH''' 

4. Lower Anliroy BniiilHtnut'H, 950 feet. 
.'i. ruiicr IJeil Willi samlHloiica, 40() font. 
U. lic.l Wall Iimesr..iiL-s, l,r.lJ» I. et. 

7. Lower ("ill lioiiitiTOiiH :<:iiiilsli)res, '>.1<I tVet. 
*i. (^Iiiail^ili- liiiso iirCjirliuiiilerMiis. lf<l>trel. 
9, Aieliiuiin. 


The length of cafion revealed clearly and in detail at Point Sublime is 
about 25 miles in each direction. Towards the northwest the vista termi- 
nates behind the projecting mass of Powell's Plateau. But again to the 
westward may be seen the crests of the iipper walls i-eaching through the 
Kanab and Uinkaret Plateaus, and finally disappearing in the haze about 
75 miles away. 

The space under immediate view from our standpoint, 50 miles long 
and 10 to 12 wide, is thronged with a great multitude of objects so vast in 
size, so bold yet majestic in form, so infinite in their details, that as the truth 
gradually reveals itself to the perceptions it arouses the strongest emotions. 
Unquestionably the great, the overruling feature is the wall on the opposite 
side of the gulf. Can mortal fancy create a picture of a mural front a mile 
in height, 7 to 10 miles distant, and receding into space indefinitely in either 
direction? As the mind strives to realize its proportions its spirit is broken 
and its imagination completely crushed. If the wall were simple in its 
character, if it were only blank and sheer, some rest might be found in con- 
templating it ; but it is full of diversity and eloquent with grand suggestions. 
It is deeply recessed by alcoves and amphitheaters receding far into the 
plateau beyond, and usually disclosing only the portals by which they 
open into the main chasm. Between them the promontories jut out, end- 
ing in magnificent gables with sharp mitered angles. Thus the wall ram- 
bles in and out, turning numberless corners. Many of the angles are acute, 
and descend as sharp spurs like the forward edge of a plowshare. Only 
those alcoves which are directly opposite to us can be seen in their full 
length and depth. Yet so excessive, nay so prodigious, is the efiect of fore- 
shortening, that it is impossible to realize their full extensions. We have 
already noted this effect in the Vermilion Cliffs, but here it is much moi-e 
exaggerated. At many points the profile of the facade is thrown into view 
by the change of trend, and its complex character is fully revealed. Like 
that of the Vermilion Cliffs, it is a series of many ledges and slopes, like a 
molded plinth, in which every stratum is disclosed as a line or a course of 
masonry. The Red Wall limestone is the most conspicuous member, pre- 
senting its vertical face eight hundred to a thousand feet high, and every- 
where unbroken. The thinner beds more often appear in the slopes as a 
10 G o 


succession of ledges projecting through the scanty talus which never con- 
ceals them. 

Numerous detached masses are also seen flanking the ends of the long 
promontories. These buttes are of gigantic proportions, and yet so over- 
whelming is the effect of the wall against which they are projected that they 
seem insignificant in mass, and the observer is often deluded by them, failing 
to perceive that they are really detached from the wall and perhaps sepa- 
rated from it by an interval of a mile or two. 

At the foot of this palisade is a platform through which meanders the 
inner gorge, in whose dai'k and somber depths flows the river. Onl}^ in one 
place can the water surface be seen. In its windings the abyss which holds 
it extends for a short distance towards us and the line of vision enters the 
gorge lengthwise. Above and below this short reach the gorge swings its 
course in other directions and reveals onlj- a dark, narrow opening, while its 
nearer wall hides its depths. This inner chasm is 1,000 to 1,200 feet deep. 
Its upper 200 feet is a vertical ledge of sandstone of a dark rich brownish 
color. Beneath it lies the gi-anite of a dark iron-gray shade, verging towards 
black, and lending a gloomy aspect to the lowest deeps. Perhaps a half 
mile of the river is disclosed. A pale, dirty red, without glimmer or sheen, 
a motionless surface, a small featureless spot, inclosed in the dark shade of 
the granite, is all of it that is here visible. Yet we know it is a large river, 
a hundred and fifty yards wide, with a headlong torrent foaming and plung- 
ing over rocky rapids. 

A little, and only a little, less impressive than the great wall across the 
chasm are the buttes upon this side. And such buttes! All others in the 
west, saving only the peerless Temples of the Virgen, are mere trifles in com- 
parison with those of the Grrand Canon. In nobility of form, beauty of deco- 
ration, and splendor of color, the Temples of the Virgen must, on the whole, 
be awarded the palm; but those of the Grand Canon, while barely inferior 
to them in those respects, surpass them in magnitude and fully equal them 
in majesty. But while the Valley of the Virgen presents a few of these 
superlative creations, the Grand Canon presents them by dozens. In this 
relation the comparison would be anah)gous to one between a fine cathedral 
town and a metropolis like London or Paris. In truth, there is onl}^ a ver}^ 


GRAND C.lSO.V DlSTK/CT. /'/.. X.\X. 





^/^'.t^^'^ -^- 




JT* ,'1/ «* 

XS ..>^rV^>^ 


r ^ 






^fUS' I 





^ ^ 





K. Mciiiiit Emnm, 
I- Inner (iinmi. 
I'. Puwiirs Philtaii. 
T. Mimiit TniinlmU. 

1. Cliertv linicstnnr. 

2. Upper Atilircy liiiu-Rtdlir, 

:t. ('l<i8H-lll'()lll-(l SliUtlMtUIlt', 

■t, I.i»W(.'r Aiibn-y HniidstiineH. 
."i, I'liprT Ki'tl Wall HniirlHtmioH 
fi. U.-.l Willi Iiip..«l.ui.-. 

7. Lower Cnr^onilVroiis snoilstonpa. 

8. (Jiini-tziti- basi- ul'CarlioiiircntiiH, 
I). Areliut^an. 


limited ground of comparison between the two localities, for in style and 
effects their respective structures differ as decidedly as the works of any 
two well-developed and strongly contrasted styles of human architecture 
Whatsoever is forcible, characteristic, and picturesqu.e in the rock- 
forms of the Plateau Country is concentrated and intensified to the utter- 
most in the buttes. Wherever we find them, whether fringing the long 
escarpments of terraces or planted upon broad mesas, whether in canons 
or upon expansive plains, they are always bold and striking in outline and 
ornate in architecture. Upon their flanks and entablatures the decoration 
peculiar to the formation out of which they have been carved is most 
strongly portrayed and the profiles are most sharply cut. They command 
the attention with special force and quicken the imagination with a singular 
power. The secret of their impressiveness is doubtless obscure. Why one 
form should be beautiful and another unattractive ; why one should be 
powerful, animated, and suggestive, while another is meaningless, are ques- 
tions for the metaphysician rather than the geologist. Sufiicient here is the 
fact. Yet there are some elements of impressiveness which are too patent 
to escape recognition. In nearly all buttes there is a certain definiteness of 
form which is peculiarly emphatic, and this is seen in their profiles. 
Their ground-plans are almost always indefinite and capricious, but the 
profiles are rarely so. These are usually composed of lines which have 
an approximate and sometimes a sensibly perfect geometrical defini- 
tion. They are usually few and simple in their ultimate analysis, 
though by combination they give rise to much variety. The ledges are 
vertical, the summits are horizontal, and the taluses are segments of hyper- 
bolas of long curvature and concave upwards. These lines greatly pre- 
ponderate in all cases, and though others sometimes intrude they seldom 
blemish greatly the effects produced by the normal ones. All this is in 
striking contrast with the ever- varying, indefinite profiles displayed in moun- 
tains and hills or on the slopes of valleys. The profiles generated by the 
combinations of these geometric lines persist along an indefinite extent of 
front. Such variations as occur arise not from changes in the nature of the 
lines, but in the modes of combination and proportions. These are never 
great in any front of moderate extent, but are just sufficient to relieve it 


from a certain monotony which would otherwise prevail. The same type 
and general form is persistent. Like the key-note of a song, the mind car- 
ries it in its consciousness wherever the harmony wanders. 

The horizontal lines or courses are equally strong. These are the edges 
of the strata, and the deeply eroded seams where the superposed beds touch 
each other. Here the uniformity as we pass from place to place is con- 
spicuous. The Carboniferous strata are quite the same in every section, 
showing no perceptible variation in thickness through great distances, and 
only a slight dip. 

It is readily apparent, therefore, that the efPect of these profiles and 
horizontal courses so persistent in their character is highly architectural. 
The relation is more than a mere analogy or suggestion ; it is a vivid resem- 
blance. Its failure or discordance is only in the ground plan, though it is 
not imcommon to find a resemblance, even in this respect, among the Per- 
mian buttes. Among the buttes of the Grand Canon there are few striking 
instances of definiteness in ground plan. The finest butte of the chasm is 
situated near the upper end of the Kaibab division ; but it is not visible 
from Point Sublime. It is more than 5,000 feet high, and has a surprising 
resemblance to an Oriental pagoda. We named it Vishnu's Temple. 

On either side of the promontory on which we stand is a side gorge 
sinking nearly 4,000 feet below us. The two unite in front of the point, 
and, ever deepening, their trunk opens into the lowest abyss in the granite 
at the river. Across either branch is a long rambling mass, one on the 
right of us, the other on the left. We named them the Cloisters. They are 
excellent types of a whole class of buttes which stand in close proximity to 
each other upon the north side of the chasm throughout the entire extent 
of the Kaibab division, A far better conception of their forms and features 
can be gained by an examination of Mr. Holmes's panoramic picture than 
by reading a whole volume of verbal description. The whole prospect, 
indeed, is filled with a great throng of similar objects, which, as much by 
their multitude as by their colossal size, confuse the senses; but these, on 
account of their proximity, may be most satisfactorily studied. The infinity 
of sharply defined detail is amazing. The eye is instantly caught and the 
attention firmly held by its systematic character. The parallelism of the 


lines of bedding' is most forcibly displayed in all the windings of the fa9ades, 
and these lines are crossed by the vertical scorings of numberless water- 
ways. Here, too, are distinctly seen those details which constitute the 
peculiar style of decoration prevailing throughout all the buttes and amphi- 
theaters of the Kaibab. The course of the walls is never for a moment 
straight, but extends as a series of cusps and re-entrant curves. Elsewhere 
the reverse is more frequently seen; the projections of the wall are rounded 
and are convex towards the front, while the re-entrant portions are cusp- 
like recesses. This latter style of decoration is common in the Permian 
buttes and is not rare in the Jurassic. It produces the effect of a thickly 
set row of pilasters. In the Grand Canon the reversal of this mode pro- 
duces the effect of panels and niches. In the western Cloister may be seen 
a succession of these niches, and though they are mere details among myriads, 
they are really vast in dimensions. Those seen in the Red Wall limestone 
are over 600 feet high, and are overhung by arched Hntels with spandrels. 
As we contemplate these objects we find it quite impossible to realize 
their magnitude. Not only are we deceived, but we are conscious that we 
are deceived, and yet we cannot conquer the deception We cannot long 
study our surroundings without becoming aware of an enormous disparity 
in the effects produced upon the senses by objects which are immediate and 
equivalent ones which are more remote. The depth of the gulf which 
separates us from the Cloisters cannot be realized. We crane over the brink, 
and about 700 feet below is a talus, which ends at the summit of the cross- 
bedded sandstone. We may see the bottom of the gorge, which is about 
3,800 feet beneath us, and yet the talus seems at least half-way down. 
Looking across the side gorge the cross-bedded sandstone is seen as a mere 
band at the summit of the Cloister, forming but a very small portion of its 
vertical extent, and, whatever the reason may conclude, it is useless to 
attempt to persuade the imagination that the two edges of the sandstone lie 
in the same horizontal plane. The eastern Cloister is nearer than the west- 
ern, its distance being about a mile and a half It seems incredible that it 
can be so much as one-third that distance. Its altitude is from 3,500 to 
4,000 feet, but any attempt to estimate the altitude by means of visual im- 
pressions is felt at once to be hopeless. There is no stadium. Dimensions 


mean nothing to the senses, and all that we are conscious of in this respect 
is a troubled sense of immensity. 

Beyond the eastern Cloister, five or six miles distant, rises a gigantic 
mass which we named Shiva's Temple. It is the grandest of all the buttes, 
and the most majestic in aspect, though not the most ornate. Its mass is as 
great as the mountainous part of Mount Washington. That summit looks 
down 6,000 feet into the dark depths of the inner abyss, over a succession 
of ledges as impracticable as the face of Bunker Hill Monument. All 
around it are side gorges sunk to a depth nearly as profound as that of tlie 
main channel. It stands in the midst of a great throng of cloister-like 
buttes, with the same noble profiles and strong hneaments as those imme- 
diately before us, with a plexus of awful chasms between them. In such a 
stupendous scene of wreck it seemed as if the fabled "Destroyer" might 
find an abode not wholly uncongenial. 

In all the vast space beneath and around us there is very little upon 
which the mind can linger restfully. It is completely filled with objects of 
gigantic size and amazing form, and as the mind wanders over them it is 
hopelessly bewildered and lost. It is useless to select special points of con- 
templation. The instant the attention lays hold of them it is drawn to 
something else, and if it seeks to recur to them it cannot find them. Every- 
thing is superlative, transcending the power of the intelligence to compre- 
hend it. There is no central point or object around which the other ele- 
ments are grouped and to which they are tributar}^ The grandest objects 
are merged in a congregation of others equally grand. Hundreds of these 
mighty structures, miles in length, and thousands of feet in height, rear 
their majestic heads out of the abyss, displaying their richly-molded plinths 
and friezes, thrusting out their gables, wing-walls, buttresses, and pilasters, 
and recessed with alcoves and panels. If any one of these stupendous 
creations had been planted upon the plains of central Europe it would have 
influenced modern art as profoundly as Fusiyama has influenced the deco- 
rative art of Japan. Yet here they are all swallowed up in the confusion 
of multitude It is not alone the magnitude of the individual objects that 
makes this spectacle so portentous, but it is still more the extravagant pro- 





fusion with which they are arrayed along- the whole visible extent of the 
broad chasm. 

The color effects are rich and wonderful. They are due to the inherent 
colors of the rocks, modified by the atmosphere. Like any other great 
series of strata in the Plateau Province, the Carboniferous has its own range 
of characteristic colors, which might serve to distinguish it even if we had 
no other criterion. The summit strata are pale grey, with a faint yellowish 
cast. Beneath them the cross-bedded sandstone appears, showing a mottled 
surface of pale pinkish hue. Underneath this member are nearly 1,000 feet 
of the lower Aubrey sandstones, displaying an intensely brilliant red, which 
is somewdiat masked by the talus shot down from the grey, cherty limestones 
at the summit. Beneath the Lower Aubrey is the face of the Red Wall 
limestone, from 2,000 to 3,000 feet high. It has a strong red tone, but a 
very peculiar one. Most of the red strata of the west have the brownish 
or vermilion tones, but these are rather purplish-red, as if the pigment had 
been treated to a dash of blue. It is not quite certain that this may not 
arise in part from the intervention of the blue haze, and probably it is ren- 
dered more conspicuous by this cause; but, on the whole, the purplish cast 
seems to be inherent. This is the dominant color-mass of the canon, for 
the expanse of rock surface displayed is more than half in the Red Wall 
group. It is less brilliant than the fiery red of the Aubrey sandstones, but 
is still quite strong and rich. Beneath are the deep browns of the lower 
Carboniferous. The dark iron-black of the hornblendic schists revealed in 
tlie lower gorge makes but little impression upon the boundless expanse of 
bright colors above. 

The total effect of the entire color-mass is bright and glowing. There 
is nothing gloomy or dark in the picture, excej^t the opening of the inner 
gorge, which is too small a feature to influence materially the prevailing- 
tone. Although the colors are bright when contrasted with normal land- 
scapes, they are decidedly less intense than the flaming hues of the Trias 
or the dense cloying colors of the Permian; nor have they the refinement 
of those revealed in the Eocene. The intense luster which gleams from the 
rocks of the Plateau Country is by no means lost here, but is merely sub- 
dued and kept under some restraint. It is toned down and softened without 


being deprived of its character. Enough of it is left to produce color effects 
not far below those that are yielded by the Jura-Trias. 

But though the inherent colors are less intense than some others, yet 
under the quickening influence of the atmosphere they produce effects to 
which all others are far inferior. And here language fails and description 
becomes impossible. Not only are their qualities exceedingly subtle, but 
they have little counterpart in common experience. If such are presented 
elsewhere they are presented so feebly and obscurely that only the most 
discriminating and closest observers of nature ever seize them, and they so 
imperfectly that their ideas of them are vague and but half real. There 
are no concrete notions founded in experience upon which a conception of 
these color effects and optical delusions can be constructed and made intel- 
ligible. A perpetual glamour envelops the landscape. Things are not what 
they seem, and the perceptions cannot tell us what they are. It is not 
probable that these effects are different in kind in the Grand Canon from 
what they are in other portions of the Plateau Country. But the difference 
in degree is immense, and being greatly magnified and intensified many 
characteristics become palpable which elsewhere elude the closest observa- 

In truth, the tone and temper of the landscape are constantly varying, 
and the changes in its aspect are very great. It is never the same, even 
from day to da)^ or even from hour to hour. In the early morning its mood 
and subjective influences are usually calmer and more full of repose than 
at other times, but as the sun rises higher the whole scene is so changed 
that we cannot recall our first impressions. Every passing cloud, every 
change in the position of the sun, recasts the whole. At sunset the pageant 
closes amid splendors that seem more than earthly. The direction of the 
full sunlight, the massing of the shadows, the manner in which the side 
lights are thrown in from the clouds determine these modulations, and the 
sensitiveness of the picture to the slightest variations in these conditions is 
very wondei'ful. 

The shadows thrown by the bold abrupt forms are exceedingly dark. 
It is almost impossible at the distance of a very few miles to distinguish 
even broad details in these shadows. They are like remnants of midnight 


unconquered by the blaze of noonday. The want of half tones and grada- 
tions in the light and shade, which has already been noted in the Vermilion 
Cliffs, is apparent here, and is far more conspicuous. Our thoughts in this 
connection may suggest to us a still more extreme case of a similar phe- 
nomenon presented by the half-illuminated moon when viewed through a 
large telescope. The portions which catch the sunlight shine with great 
luster, but the shadows of mountains and cliffs are black and impenetrable. 
But there is one feature in the canon which is certainly extraordinary. It 
is the appearance of the atmosphere against the background of shadow. It 
has a metallic luster which must be seen to be appreciated. The great 
wall aci'oss the chasm presents at noonday, under a cloudless sky, a singu- 
larly weird and unearthly aspect. The color is for the most part gone. In 
place of it comes this metallic glare of the haze. The southern wall is 
never so poorly lighted as at noon. Since its face consists of a series of 
promontories projecting towards the north, these ^projections catch the sun- 
light on their eastern sides in the forenoon, and upon their western sides in 
the afternoon ; but near meridian the rays fall upon a few points only, and 
even upon these with very great obliquity. Thus at the hours of greatest 
general illumination the wall is most obscure and the abnormal effects are 
then presented most forcibly. They give rise to strange delusions. The 
rocks then look nearly black, or very dark grey, and covered with feebly 
shining spots. The haze is strongly luminous, and so dense as to obscure 
the details already enfeebled by shade as if a leaden or mercurial vapor 
intervened. The shadows antagonize the perspective, and everything seems 
awry. The lines of stratification, dimly seen in one place and wholly 
effaced in another, are strangely belied, and the strata are given apparent 
attitudes which are sometimes grotesque and sometimes impossible. 

Those who are familiar with western scenery have, no doubt, been 
impressed with the peculiar character of its haze — or atmosphere, in the 
artistic sense of the word — and have noted its more prominent qualities. 
When the air is free from common smoke it has a pale blue color which 
is quite unlike the neutral gray of the east. It is always apparently 
more dense when we look towards the sun than when we look away 
from it, and this difference in the two directions, respectively, is a maximum 


near sunrise and sunset. This property is universal, but its peculiarities 
in the Plateau Province become conspicuous when the strong rich colors 
of the rocks are seen through it. The very air is then visible. We see it, 
palpably, as a tenuous fluid, and the rocks beyond it do not appear to be 
colored blue as they do in other regions, but reveal themselves clothed in 
colors of" their own. The Grand Canon is ever full of this haze. It fills it 
to the brim. Its apparent density, as elsewhere, is varied according to the 
direction in which it is viewed and the position of the sun ; but it seems 
also to be denser and more concentrated than elsewhere. This is really a 
delusion arising from the fact that the enormous magnitude of the chasm 
and of its component masses dwarfs the distances ; we are really looking 
through miles of atmosphere under the impression that they are only so 
many furlongs. This apparent concentration of haze, however, greatly 
intensifies all the beautiful or mysterious optical defects which are depend- 
ent upon the intervention of the atmosphere. 

Whenever the brink of the chasm is reached the chances are that the 
sun is high and these abnormal efi"ects in full force. The canon is asleep. 
Or it is under a spell of enchantment which gives its bewildering mazes an 
aspect still more bewildering. Throughout the long summer forenoon the 
charm which binds it grows in potency. At midday the clouds begin to 
gather, first in fleecy flecks, then in cumuli, and throw their shadows into 
the ffulf At once the scene changes. The slumber of the chasm is disturbed. 
The temples and cloisters seem to raise themselves half awake to greet the 
passing shadow. Their wilted, drooping, flattened faces expand into relief 
The long promontories reachout from thedistant wall as if to catch a moment's 
refreshment from the shade. The colors begin to glow; the haze loses its 
opaque density and becomes more tenuous. The shadows pass, and the 
chasm relapses into its dull sleep again. Thus through the midday hours it 
lies in fitful slumber, overcome by the blinding glare and withering heat, yet 
responsive to every fluctuation of light and shadow like a delicate organism. 

As the sun moves far into the west the scene again changes, slowly and 
imperceptibly at first, but afterwards more rapidly. In the hot summer 
afternoons the sky is full of cloud-play and the deep flushes with ready 
answers. The banks of snowy clouds pour a flood of light sidewise into the 


shadows and light up the gloom of the amphitheaters and alcoves, weaken- 
ing the glow of the haze and rendering visible the details of the wall faces. 
At length, as the sun draws near the horizon, the great drama of the day 

Throughout the afternoon the prospect has been gradually growing- 
clearer. The haze has relaxed its steely glare and has changed to a veil of 
transparent blue. Slowly the myriads of details have come out and the walls 
are flecked with lines of minute tracery, forming a diaper of light and shade. 
Stronger and sharper becomes the relief of each projection. The promon- 
tories come forth from the opposite wall. The sinuous lines of stratification 
which once seemed meaningless, distorted, and even chaotic, now range 
themselves into a true perspective of graceful curves, threading the scallop 
edges of the strata. The colossal buttes expand in every dimension. Their 
long, narrow wings, which once were folded together and flattened against 
each other, open out, disclosing between them vast alcoves illumined with 
Rembrandt lights tinged with the pale refined blue of the ever-present haze. 
A thousand forms, hitherto unseen or obscure, start up within the abyss, and 
stand forth in strength and animation. All things seem to grow in beauty, 
power, and dimensions. What was grand before has become majestic, the 
majestic becomes sublime, and, ever expanding and developing, the sublime 
passes beyond the reach of our faculties and becomes transcendent. The 
colors have come back. Inherently rich and strong, though not superlative 
under ordinary lights, they now begin to displaj^ an adventitious brilliancy. 
The western sky is all aflame. The scattered banks of cloud and wavy 
cirrhus have caught the waning splendor, and shine with orange and crimson. 
Broad slant beams of yellow light, shot through the glory -rifts, fall on turret 
and tower, on pinnacled crest and winding ledge, suffusing them with a 
radiance less fulsome, but akin to that Avhich flames in the western clouds 
The summit band is brilliant yellow ; the next below is pale rose. But the 
grand expanse within is a deep, luminous, resplendent red. The climax has 
now come. The blaze of sunlight poured over an illimitable surface of glow- 
ing red is flung back into the gulf, and, commingling with the blue haze, 
turns it into a sea of purple of most imperial hue — so rich, so strong, so pure 
that it makes the heart ache and the throat tighten. However vast the mau- 


nitudes, however majestic the forms, or sumptuous the decoration, it is in 
these kingly colors that the highest glory of the Grand Canon is revealed. 
At length the sun sinks and the colors cease to burn. The abyss lapses 
back into repose. But its glory mounts upward and diffuses itself in the 
sky above. Long streamers of rosy light, rayed out from the west, cross 
the firmament and converge again in the east, ending in a pale rosy arch, 
which rises like a low aurora just above the eastern horizon Below it is 
the dead gray shadow of the world. Higher and higher climbs the arch, 
followed by the darkening pall of gray, and as it ascends it fades and dis- 
appears, leaving no color except the after-glow of the western clouds and 
the lusterless red of the chasm below. Within the abyss the darkness gathers. 
Grradually the shades deepen and ascend, hiding the opposite wall and 
enveloping the great temples. For a few moments the summits of these 
majestic piles seem to float upon a sea of blackness, then vanish in the dark- 
ness, and, wrapped in the impenetrable mantle of the night, they await the 
glory of the coming dawn. 



The spring on the summit. — Tapeat's Amphitheater. — Descent of the canon wall.— Surprise Valley.— 
Powell's Plateau. — The Hidden Spring. — Shinumo Amphitheater. — Mnav CaTjon. — Hindoo Am- 
phitheater.— Milk Spring again.— Shiva's Temple.— The central chain of parks and the drainage.— 
Thompson's Spring. — The Transept. — Bright Angel Amphitheater. — The Lagoon. — Ottoman 
Amphitheater. — Alcoves and buttes. — Cape Royal.- The Cloister buttes. — Cape Final. — Vishnu's 
Temple. — The head of the Grand Canon.— The monocline and the exposures of the Silurian.— 
The junction of the Little Colorado. — The great unconformity at the head of the Grand Canon. — 
The monoclines and faults south of the chasm. 

In the present chapter I shall describe briefly the portions of the Kaibab 
boundary which front the great chasm, noting the more important amphi- 
theaters and prominent objects of interest. It would be the more intelligible 
if the reader have before him the several sheets of Mr. Bodfish's map of the 
southern portion of the Kaibab. Let us begin this tour at the westernmost 
part of the plateau represented in the northwestern sheet of the map. 

In order to reach that point, it is best to start from a little spring in the 
western portion of the Kaibab, which the surveying parties have always 
called by its Indian name, Parusi-wompats. The traveler who has never 
visited it would scarcely be able to find it without a guide. It is securely 
hidden in a shallow ravine, which has nothing to distinguish it from hun- 
dreds of other ravines upon the broad platform. But the trail being known 
it is easily reached by a few houi-s' ride through the forest, either from the 
Big Spring in Stewart's Canon or from De Motte Park. A more delightful 
camping place in summer or early autumn cannot be found. The grand 
old pines, the large graceful spruces, and pale-green aspens are abundant, 
but not too dense; the grass is knee-deep and swarming with gay flowers; 
the ground is dry and firm. The ravine rambles away as an open glade 
in the forest, and soon winds out of sight. Beneath a clump of spruces 
the spring sends forth a slender thread of clear pure water, almost icy cold, 



and a few yards from its fountain the waters disappear. If any one would 
know how great a luxury pure cold water is, let him drink of Parusiwom- 
pats,* and afterwards pitch his tent by the water-pockets of the Kanab 
and Uinkaret deserts. Leaving the spring at sunrise and moving north- 
westward through an undulating forest-clad country, a ride of about three 
and a half miles brings us to an angle of the 


It is one of the first order of magnitude, and is eroded back about 
eight miles into the Kaibab mass from the angle where the river bends to 
the west to flow through the Kanab division of the canon. We come upon 
it suddenly and in a moment are gazing down into fearful depths or across 
at cliffs piled on cliffs. Upon the southern side is the large isolated mass 
called Powell's Plateau (of which we shall see more hereafter), forming the 
southern wall of the amphitheater. In the middle of the abyss is planted 
one of those gigantic buttes so characteristic of the Kaibab scenery. It is 
very noble in its proportions and beautiful in its profiles. A remnant of the 
cherty limestone about 201) feet thick carved into some shape, which is 
quite striking though nameless, serves as a finial to the pagoda. Below it 
the curved profiles sweep down 1,600 feet, and then plunge precipitously 
below the Red Wall some 1,400 to 2,000 feet more. The width of the 
amphitheater measured parallel to the general course of the river is about 
nine miles. Its back wall on the east is nearly straight in its general trend, 
but in detail it is deeply scored by notches. At the bottom runs the Tapeats 
Creek, a considerable stream of clear water fed by many large springs 
bursting from the lower portions of the great Kaibab wall. Though it is 
wrought upon a grand scale, and though, in comparison with ordinary 
plateau scenery, this profound valley is unspeakably impressive, it is infe- 
rior in diversity, and in the number of commanding objects displayed, to 
those further to the southeastward. It occupies a middle ground between 

* I am unable to give tlie full translation of this name. Fartish means flowing water; the last 
word is prohahly associated with some mythical ideus of xs'hich Indians rarely speak to white men. 


the complicated features of the Kaibab division and the simpler character- 
istics of the Kanab 'division. 

Upon the northern side of this amphitheater there is a trail by which 
it is practicable to descend from the upper crest to the brink of the river. 
It is a long and devious route, requiring a whole day's journey to get down 
and nearly two days to ascend. In the year 1876 a rumor was circulated 
that gold had been found in the sands of the river, and it gained credence 
enough to attract a number of the restless people who tramp the deserts of 
the far west in pursuit of — they know not what. With considerable labor 
and danger this trail was built and used long enough to satisfy those who 
went there that they had been deceived. In 1880 it was again used by the 
parties of this surve}^ to reach the river and make a series of barometric 
observations. As an instance of what the explorer must expect who 
attempts the feat of scaling these mighty walls the features of this route 
are worthy of description. It may be added that there is no other known 
place promising any better facilities for constructing a pathway down the 
cliffs, and probably also none so good. 

From the crest of the wall we descend at once a notch in the cherty 
limestone so steep that it seems at fii'st impracticable. The gradient is onl}^ 
a little less than the angle of repose, but the roughness of the rock pro- 
duced by the weathering out of the cherty nodules gives good holding 
ground, and with care the way is not dangerous. By zigzag courses we at 
length descend about 700 feet and reach the summit of the cross-bedded 
sandstone. There are two formations in the Grand Canon series which op- 
pose the chief obstacles to the ascent or descent of the escarpments. The 
worst is the Eed Wall and the other is the cross-bedded sandstone. Both 
present cliffs which are rarely broken down into slopes. Their edges may 
be followed for scores of miles without finding a practicable passage. The 
Red Wall i.s particularly inexorable. In all the Kaibab division of the 
chasm only three or four places are now known which offer any hope of a 
jjassage of this formation. The cross-bedded sandstone is more frequently 
beveled down, but even in this mass the breaks are few and far between. 
The only locality at present known where both formations present breaks 
within a day's journey of each other is the one we are describing. 


Here a rain gully has cut a steep trough in the sandstone which, by 
its very roughness, permits us to descend, or rather slidfe down^ at moderate 
risk. With one man to pull on the halter and two to push, each animal 
may be launched on its adventurous journey. The sandstone is scoured 
into a series of maximum and minimum slopes, all of them bare rock, and 
by sliding helplessly down the former and checking themselves upon the 
latter, the poor beasts escape perdition. The thickness of the sandstone thus 
traversed is about 350 feet. At its base we find the lower Aubrey, which 
presents a less difficult aspect. It now remains to find the passage of the 
Red Wall, which is ten miles distant, and in the mean time we must descend 
a thousand feet of sandstones which make up the lower Aubrey. These 
consist of innumerable beds, varying in thickness from five feet to fifty, 
each presenting its own ledge and talus. The ledges are often beveled and 
notched by rain gullies, and wherever the way seems easiest we alternately 
travel along the talus and slide or scramble down the broken ledge to the 
next talus below. For several hours the journey consists of this kind of 
travel. Here the trail heads some offshoot of a great lateral gorge, there 
it rounds some lofty promontory. Often the shelf on which we move nar- 
rows to a mere fillet with imminent rocks above and destruction below. 
Had not the trail been already chosen we should find the shelves gradually 
vanishing, the ledge below becoming a single face with the ledge above. 
As it is the trail needed in many places to be built up to give a narrow 
tread along some projecting shoulder, where the packs brush the rocks as 
the mules pass by. At length it becomes steeper, the ledges more frequent 
and higher, and the way grows somewhat alarming. A single inadvert- 
ence, the slightest accident, sends man or beast to the great unknown. 

At length we reach the summit of the Red Wall limestone and a vertical 
cliff 1,200 feet high is below us. Here the trail doubles on itself and turns 
back at a lower level, following the brink of the cliff for three miles. At 
the end of this stretch is the summit of a steep but practicable slope across 
the Red Wall. Again the trail doubles in its course and a rapid descent 
of 2,000 feet brings us with no further danger to Surprise Valley. 

We seem to be in a ad de sac. On the right is the great Red Wall preci- 


pice, on the left a lofty ridge of the same, and in front is the great preci- 
pice again. Out of a lateral chasm on the right there flows a large creek of 
water, clear as crystal, and dashing merrily along its rocky bed. It 
emerges from a cavern in the cliff and passes right across the lower end of 
the valley ; but whither does it go ? It seems to enter the inclosing ridge 
on the left. Following the stream a few hundred yards the ridge is seen 
to be cleft transversely by a cut 50 or 60 feet wide and 700 or 800 feet 
deep. The cleft winds out of sight into its mass. Leaving the animals 
and entering its opening there is seen to be a deeper and narrower cleft 
about 12 feet wide into which, by a succession of cascades, the bi'ook 
plunges. At the top of the lower and narrower cleft is a shelf, along which 
we may walk. The width of this shelf contracts and the walls begin to 
overhang. As we progress it becomes only three or four feet wide and the 
overhang is so low that we must creep on hands and knees. Beside us is 
the fissure, and the reverberations of the water come up from unseen depths 
which appear by the sound to be great. Soon the shelf widens again and 
the roof rises higher so that we may walk erect. A few hundred yards be- 
yond we emerge into full daylight again upon the brink of a cliff about 450 
feet high. At the bottom flows the Colorado River. A little to the west 
the cliff is shattered, and there we may descend to the water's edge and 
refresh oui'selves. Here the river is about to flow out of the " granite," for 
the gentle dip of the whole stratigraphic system towards the west carries 
the horizons downward at a rate more rapid than the fall of the river. Here, 
too, is the beginning of the Kanab division of the Grrand Canon. 

There is little here of interest to the geologist beyond what will be, or 
what has been, described in this work in more general terms. I have 
indulged in this digression to convey graphically an idea of the canon wall 
and to indicate the difficulties which attend an examination of points within 
the chasm Let us, therefore, return the way we came. 

Leaving Parusi-wompats Spring, a faint trail leads to the southwest- 
ward, winding through the forest and across ravines and gulches. A ride 
of two or three hours brings us once more to the brink; here is a wide gap, 

sepai'ating the main Kaibab platform from a lai'ge outlying mass named 
11 a c 



This gap is a saddle or col between the Tapeats amphitheater on the 
north and a vast lateral gorge on the south, known as the Muav Caiion. 
Erosion has eaten completely through the upper beds of the isthmus which 
formerly connected Powell's Plateau with the mainland, removing there- 
from about 1,200 feet of strata. The saddle thus formed is therefore 1,200 
feet below us, and to reach the outlying plateau it is necessary to descend 
into and cross the intervening gap. A curious phenomenon is presented 
here. On the spot where we stand it would hardly be seen, but it is very 
conspicuous from points eight or ten miles north or south. One of the 
branches of the West Kaibab multiple fault cuts right across the isthmus 
from north to south, and presents a relation similar to those presented in 
some parts of the Hurricane, Sevier, and other faults. The beds upon the 
western side of the fault flex downwards at a considerable angle as they 
approach the fault-plane. This of itself is a very common thing, and is 
exhibited so frequently in the faults of the Plateau Province that we have 
come to regard it as one of the characteristic features of its displacements. 
The peculiarity here is that at the distance of less than a mile west of the 
fault the beds have come back to the same position they would have occu- 
pied if no fault had occurred. From the summit of the Kaibab there is a 
sensibly uniform dip of the beds to the southwestward, continuing across 
and beyond Powell's Plateau, and even beyond the river, the inclination 
being about If °. This fault comes in as a purely local interruption, affect- 
ing the beds in its immediate vicinity on the west side of the fault-plane 
and having no effect upon them a little distance from it. This singular 
mode of displacement is extremely perplexing when we come to inquire 
into the nature of the causes which have produced faults, and reminds us 
very forcibly how ignorant we are of those causes, and how inapplicable 
are all theories hitherto advanced to explain them. This same dislocation 
continues both north and south of the gap. On the northern side of the 
Tapeats amphitheater the beds and general platform have been dropped by 
the fault, and its effect is continuous west of the fault-plane. South of the 
gap the relation of the beds is apparently the same as at the gap itself, so 


far as could be made out for a distance of seven or eight miles. But south 
of the Grand Canon a short and rather small monoclinal flexure is seen in 
the wall, in which the platform west of the fault is actually higher than that 
on the east. It is believed to be a continuation of the same displacement, 
but in the confused mass of objects in the great chasm the continuity has 
escaped identification. Little doubting this continuity, I may cite this case 
as an instance of the complete reversal of the throw of faults as we trace 
them along their trend. 

The descent into the Muav saddle is very steep, and, though hardly 
dangerous, requires caution and the steadiest and best trained pack animals 
to go safely past some points. At the bottom a fine camp may be made 
beneath the yellow pines, and good water may be obtained from a spring 
about a quarter of a mile away, issuing from a ledge of the lower Aubrey 
sandstone. No permanent water is found on Powell's Plateau, and what- 
ever is required for the visitor there must be brought from this spring. 
The ascent on the other side of the gap is steep and difiicult, but requires 
nothing more than the ordinary strength of youthful limbs and healthy 
lungs. Reaching the platform above, it is quite like that of the Kaibab, 
beautifully forest-clad and undulating, with shallow ravines and intervening 
ridges. Once away from the immediate vicinity of the brink, there is nothing 
to indicate the proximity of stupendous scenery. 

Powell's Plateau is about five and a half miles in length and two miles 
in width. It declines gently in altitude from northeast to southwest, the 
latter extremity being about 500 feet lower than the former. This declen- 
sion is part of the general slope which descends from the summit of the 
great Kaibab mass to the central part of the Kanab and Colorado platforms, 
at a rate not often exceeding 150 feet to the mile, and usually less. The 
situation of this outlying butte — for such it may be very jjroperly con- 
sidered — is directly in the course pursued by the Colorado in the Kaibab 
division. As the river approaches its base it makes a sudden detour to the 
west, and skirting around its furthermost point it winds back to the north- 
east until at the mouth of the Tapeats amphitheater it reaches the head of 
the Kanab division. There it bends once more to the west-southwest, and 
holds that course for nearly sixty miles, Thus the plateau lies in the pro- 


longation of the median line, and immediately athwart the course of the 
grandest pai't of the Grand Canon, and as we reach the southern brink there 
bursts upon the view a scene which rivals that at Point Sublime. In truth, 
many will no doubt consider it as the grandest in the canon, and in certain 
respects it certainly is so, though I must, for my own part, give a slight 
preference to that of Point Sublime. It is far more picturesque than the 
latter and is less panoramic. The objects are grouped about a central 
point, or rather axis, to which they are seen to be tributar}^ A stretch of 
the river six miles long is in full view, flowing in the dark depths of the 
granite more than a mile below. The reason alone tells us it is water ; to 
the eye it is a fixed, motionless, slender thread — a narrow streak of color — a 
ghost. It comes, we know not whence — seemingly from the bowels of the 
earth, and it seems to enter them again beneath our very feet. On either 
side spring up the gigantic buttes lined with richest tracery and molded 
in graceful patterns. The great promontories from either wall stretch out 
towards it, presenting terminal gables or sharp spurs bristling with minarets 
and needles. A perspective of fifty miles is before us of twin palisades, too 
grand for comprehension, of infinite diversit}^, and amazing sculpture. In 
the interspace are numberless structures of wonderful forms and colossal 

The scene here in comparison to that of Point Sublime may be likened 
to the vista of a grand avenue of the most stately and imposing structures 
viewed from the end of the street, while from Point Sublime the standpoint 
is analogous to one from a projecting pediment situated mid-length of the 
avenue, where we may with equal effect look up or down and across to 
noble structures on the other side. At Powell's Plateau the view is more 
picturesque and more systematic. In grandeur it is about equal. But the 
defect which usually mars all canon scenery is here more pronounced. It 
is the false perspective, the flattening of objects through want of gradations 
in tones and shades, and the obscurity of form and detail produced by the 
great distances and hazy atmosphere. But under proper lights and con- 
ditions of the air these defects may, on rare occasions, be dispelled. 

The main wall on the southern side of Powell's Plateau descends to 
the river with more than usual precipitation. From above, little of it can 


be seen, but from distant points to the southward it is veiy conspicuous 
for its splendid alcoves, buttresses, and cusps, which are carved upon a 
scale of grandeur somewhat unusual even for the Grand Canon. Nothing 
can surpass the magnificence of the Red Wall group along the facade. Its 
entire bulk is presented in a single plinth, which is recessed by alcoves or 
deep panels 1,200 to 1,500 feet wide, with finely sculptured buttresses 
intervening between them. Very ornate also are the rows of pinnacles 
carved out of the cherty limestone forming the summit stratum of the pla- 
teau. These are well displayed upon the eastern crest. They are from 
180 to 200 feet high and stand about 100 feet apart. 

Towards the west, Powell's Plateau divides into a series of slender 
promontories pointing towards the river, and several of these have detached 
buttes just beyond the main cusps. The view from this end is also instruct- 
ive as well as very grand. The river here is gradually passing out of and 
above the granite, and the topography of the canon passes by a gradual 
transition from the features peculiar to the Kaibab to those of the Kanab 
division. The Red Wall group is much less eroded than in the heart of 
the Kaibab division, but much more so than in the Kanab. The great 
middle terrace of the Kanab division begins to appear. It is much cut 
up by side gorges and minor amphitheaters, but the greater part of its mass 
still remains. Towards the west and northwest these lateral gorges in the 
Red Wall group become fewer and smaller, while towards the southeast 
they become more numerous, deeper, and wider, until only the cloister 
buttes remain. All this is indicative of a more advanced stage of the gen- 
eral erosion in the Kaibab than in the Kanab division. This in turn may 
be traced directly to the greater altitude and greater rainfall of the former 
with a correspondingly greater efficiency of the eroding agents and causes. 

On the return from Powell's Plateau to the Kaibab it will be interest- 
ing to look into the great gorge which has received the name of Muav 
Caiion. It heads at the saddle and extends southward, opening into the 
channel which drains the next great amphitheater. As we look into it we 
are in a measure shut out from the view of the immense spectacle displayed 
in the main chasm, and the mind is not under the sway of those over- 
whelming effects which the panoramic scenery of the canon always pro- 


duces, and is not quite so completely overpowered by a vastness which it 
cannot begin to realize. The Muav is relatively only a little nook — a mere 
detail like scores of others, which open directly into the chasm itself or into 
the greater amphitheaters, and which are lost or unnoticed in the multitude. 
Yet as we view it apart from the whole we are still oppressed with its mag- 
nitude. Its walls are a mile in height and very abrupt. The taluses are 
unusually narrow and the precipices more predominant than in more typi- 
cal profiles. The lines of stratification, always clear and bold in the cHffs 
of the chasm, are disclosed with more than common emphasis and in great 
number. Their scalloped contours, rigorously parallel, winding gracefully 
in and out, are projected in curious figures by the perspective and give rise 
to many illusions. As we stand in the saddle and look down into the 
abyss beneath, all sense of absolute magnitudes is quite lost. The trees 
dwindle to shrubs and then to minute flecks ; the fallen blocks, as big as 
cottages, fade away and blend together in a minutely granular patch-work 
of shades and warm colors, and far down in the lower depths the eye can 
recognize nothing but a playground for the imagination. Above us on the 
crest-lines are the rows of pinnacles. As we stood beside them a few hours 
ago and looked up to the quaint, curious knobs upon their summits we 
felt very much as we might when looking up at the Bunker Hill Monu- 
ment As we see them now ranging away into the distance they seem 
altogether too tiny and trifling to serve as appropriate decorations for these 
monstrous fa9ades. But the Muav is only a trifle!— a little piece of by-play 
on which we may condescend to bestow a passing look of pleasure as we 
hasten on to grander and mightier scenes ! 

Climbing out of the gap, we reach the Kaibab platform again. It is 
not necessary to return to Parusi-wompats, which is in a different direction 
to that which we wish to pursue. Moving southeastward about three miles, 
we come to the brink of a large surface ravine, cut to the depth of about 
400 feet, and with steep sides. It is one of the largest and deepest in the 
southern portion of the Kaibab, though in other respects it is qiiite similar 
to the others. A trail leads to the bottom of it, and a small spring is found 
about 400 yards further down the ravine. We named it the Hidden Spring, 





for it is quite deftly concealed upon the left bank, and were it not for the 
beaten track our parties have made, it would not be readily found by 
future travelers. From this point the distance by trail to Point Sublime is 
about 1 8 miles, and if it is desired to reach that promontory from here it 
will be necessary to carry water in kegs. But a chapter has already been 
devoted to a description of the canon as seen from Point Sublime, and our 
journey should be to the next watering place to the southeastward. From 
the Hidden Spring, however, we may make journeys on foot to numerous 
points overlooking the chasm. Ascending the steep sides of the ravine, a 
walk of two or three miles to the westward will bring us to crest of the 


It is one of the first order of magnitude, and though its area is less than 
that of the Tapeats amphitheater, its scenery is much more imposing. We 
look across the Grand Canon to the country beyond. Between us and the 
opposite wall is an interval of 12 miles, thronged with those magnificent 
masses and intricate details which characterize the Kaibab division. A 
plexus of drainage channels heading all around the base of the upper 
encircling walls unite in a shoi't trunk channel which enters the Colorado. 
Each branch and filament has cut a lateral chasm of immense depth, and 
between the gorges rise the residual masses, in the form of buttes. Some 
of these are gorgeous pagodas, sculptured in the usual fashion, and ending 
in sharp finials at the summit. Others are the cloister buttes with wing- 
walls and gables, panels and alcoves. All are quarried out upon a superla- 
tive scale of magnitude, and every one of them is a marvel. The great 
number and intricacy of these objects confuse the senses and do not permit 
the eye to rest. The mind wanders incessantly from one to another, and 
cannot master the multitude of things crowded at once upon its attention. 
There are scores of these structures, any one of which, if it could be placed 
by itself upon some distant plain, would be regarded as one of the great 
wonders of the world. Yet here they cro^v(l each other, and no one of them 


predominates sufficiently to form a central point in the picture. Still, the 
total effect is quite commensurate with that experienced in the choicest stand- 
points from which the canon may be viewed. The power and grandeur of 
the scene is quite be)^ond description. 

Leaving the Hidden Spring our nest objective point is the Milk Spring, 
ali-eady spoken of as lying upon the route from De Motte Park to Point 
Sublime. Our base of operations, it will be perceived, is always some water- 
ing place, and such places are few and not often conveniently situated. The 
distance to the Milk Spring is about 14 miles by trail through the forest. 
Moving up the large ravine a distance of about 4 miles from the Hidden 
Spring, we at length leave it upon its southern bank. The way is delight- 
ful. It lies through a succession of little parks, and along the courses of 
the ravines, with open forest on either hand. The drainage channels here 
run to the southwest, heading near De Motte Park, and our route crosses 
them. None of them present any notable obstacles to travel, for their banks 
are rarely precipitous or even steep. On the way we come once more near 
the brink of the Shinumo Amphitheater, for a ravine runs jiast a large alcove 
near the head of it, and by ascending the bank it breaks upon the view with 
a suddenness which is quite startling The traveler might pass this point 
many times without suspecting his proximity to such stupendous scenery, 
and unless duly advised would suppose himself far away from the brink in 
the depths of the forest. 

From the Milk Spring we may at our pleasure revisit Point Sublime. 
The distance is only ten or eleven miles by an easy trail, which we shall 
follow here far enough only to note another grand amphitheater — or rather 
a pair of them. The trail comes suddenly upon the brink about five miles 
from the spring. One of the tributaries of the Colorado between Shiva's 
Temple and Point Sublime forks about three miles from the river, and each 
fork is in the bed of a mighty basin, the two being separated by a long and 
singularly slender promontory, which is in reality a large cloister butte. 
We may regard the two basins either as two or as branches of a single 
amphitheater. Taking the latter view of the arrangement we have named 
the whole as the 



It is eroded back from the river a distance of about ten miles. The 
two branches are parallel, and each is about three miles in width. They are 
therefore much narrower than the Tapeats or the Shinumo, and strikingly 
diflferent in plan. They appear from above as immense canon-like gorges 
opening far away into the central or main avenue of the Grand Canon. 
Their upper ends are bounded by circular walls which descend at once cliff 
below cliff to a depth of about 3,600 feet. Thence towards the river they 
grow deeper at the rate of over 200 feet to the mile. The walls are finely 
sculptured and richly colored. As we look down the long vista and out 
into the central chasm beyond we see the great throng of giant buttes and 
temples, vast pyramids and towers ornamented with rich tracery, all clus- 
tered together so thickly that thej^ seem to crowd each other. At the lower 
end of the eastern branch, or near the confluence of the two branches, rises 
the largest and perhaps the most conspicuous of all the pagodas, Shiva's 
Temple. It is more than a mile high, and remarkably symmetrical in its 
profiles. In this butte the entire local Carboniferous series is preserved. Its 
summit is a horizontal tablet of the cherty limestone nearly a mile in width 
occupying a horizon sensibly even with the summit of the main plateau. 
Around it are gorges of immense depth into which the fa9ades of the temple 
descend by a succession of cliffs and taluses. The rain sculpture in the edges 
of the strata is quite ornamental, and the detail forms repeat themselves in 
characteristic ways in every member. 

In these amphitheaters we cannot fail to be much impressed with the 
inti'icate and yet S5^stematic manner in which the ground plan of the walls is 
laid out. Great alcoves and cusps are formed, and wherever the wall makes 
a turn it is by a well-rounded inward curve or by a sharp cusp-like projec- 
tion. The architectural details are always striking, and by their profusion 
and richness suggest an Oriental character. 

The long and rather wide promontory ending at Point Sublime sepa- 
rates the Hindoo Ampliitheater from the Shinumo. It is interesting here to 
note the peculiar relation of the surface ravines of the Kaibab to these 
mighty excavations. In truth, it seems at first as if the surface ravines had 


no definite or assignable relation to them in any respect whatever. One 
very marked ravine comes from the summit overlooking Little De Motte 
Park, and runs along the middle of the promontory which ends at Point 
Sublime and terminates at the brink. No ravine enters the Shiuumo at its 
head, but two enter it at the sides. Thei'e is no ravine entering the head of 
the western branch of the Hindoo, but a i-ather deep one enters the head of 
the eastern branch. A conception of the real state of the case may, perhaps, 
be gained- by recalling the fact that these amphitheaters were originally 
nan'ow cuts produced by corrasion, and subsequently widened by the 
weathering of the edges of the strata thus exposed. The walls recede by 
waste away from the axis of the cut, and sooner or later a ravine here and 
there is tapped laterally by the receding wall wasting backwards across its 
course. Thus we often find an old ravine suddenly cut ofi" on the brink of 
an abyss, and the continuation of the same ravine is seen upon the other 
side of the amphitheater. Quite probably, at some very early stage in the 
excavation of the Grrand Canon and its lateral gorges, the amphitheaters 
were merely the lower courses of the stream beds which constitute the 
Kaibab drainage system. But these streams dried up and the enlargement 
of the chasms went on in a measure independently of the distribution of 
the surface ravines. Here and there a ravine shows that it has maintained 
the old relation and enters the amphitheater at its head. Such ravines are 
almost always the largest ones, and they notch the wall of the amphitheater 
to a depth of 400 to 600 feet. They may in such cases possibly be regarded 
as the main channels of the lateral gorges. But usually the surface chan- 
nels end anywhere upon the brink in seeming caprice as to choice of locality. 
If we could restore the mass which has been removed in the Grand Canon 
we might very probably find them gathering together into a series of ordi- 
nary tributaries, constituting a limited number of district drainage trees, 
the trunks of which are the existing channels at the lower ends or openings 
of the great amphitheaters. 

From the Milk Spring we may also make a journey southward to the 
end of the great promontory which forms the eastern wall of the Hindoo 
Amphitheater. Tlie scene here presented is of the same general character 
as that from Point Sublime. It is not quite so satisfactory, however, because 






















=- — li^ ^,i3il, <-tj>>^"i tUJ 


the mighty mass of Shiva's Temple is interposed, and hides from view 
a large part of the panorama. It has, however, some advantages, for 
it gives us probably the clearest view we can obtain of the stupendous 
character of the side gorges. This aspect of the great butte, Shiva's Temple, 
is on the whole decidedly marred by too great proximity. So vast a mass 
can be seen advantageously only from a considerable distance. Here it is 
only a little more than a mile away, and but a small portion of it is visible. 

From the Milk Spring we journey eastward. Two or three miles from 
the spring we descend into a very broad valley, forming a large open park, 
with a few scattered groves of spruce, aspen, and pine, but mainly clear 
meadow, densely carpeted with grass and flowers. It is one of a long chain 
of wide parks, of which the largest is De Motte's. The one we are now 
entering is a few miles south of Little De Motte. It is conspicuously differ- 
ent in its features from the ordinary drainage channels which cover the sur- 
face of the Plateau, being very much wider. All of the others are narrow. 
Here the width is about two miles. Upon its western bank no ravines enter 
it, but those which head upon the summit flow away from it to the westward 
and southwestward. A few short ravines come into it upon the eastern side. 
This valley is a dividing furrow, completely separating the drainage of the 
Kaibab summit into two independent systems and areas. They never inter- 
lace or show any relation to each other. This broad valley on the summit 
of the Plateau, completely separates them, and receives absolutely nothing 
from the area west of it, and almost nothing from the area east of it. 

At the bottom of the valley we find outcrops of the cross-bedded sand- 
stone. Inasmuch as the cherty limestone is found upon the heights over- 
looking the valley, and as the difference in altitude is just equal to the 
thickness of strata between the two geological horizons, we may safely 
conclude that the valley is the work of erosion, and is not due to the dis- 
location and dropping of a wedge of strata, as was at one time suspected 

Crossing the park and ascending the heights upon the east, we once 
more descend into a rather deep ravine of the usual type. Upon its bank 
the trail passes by a small trickling fountain, known as Thompson's Spring. 
A basin has been dug and made water-tight by our parties to save the 
scanty supply of precious liquid which issues from it. The flow, though 


extremely feeble, is unfailing and the water excellent. Tlie Milk Spring, 
though very much more copious, has been known to fail in very dry sea- 
sons. Thompson's Spring is an important camping place in the study of the 
extreme southern portions of the Kaibab, for it is the last spring of water in 
that direction which can be depended upon. A good trail leads to it from 
De Motte Park, the distance being about 17 miles. 

From this point we may visit several interesting localities. Following 
downwards the main ravine about five miles we find it at length betraying 
evidence that it is near the brink of some amphitheater. Climbing the 
steep bank to the main platform 300 feet above, we move towards the 
southwest, and in half an hour more are upon the verge of one of the 
finest and perhaps the most picturesque of the gorges in the whole Kaibab 
front. It is a tributary to the Bright Angel Amphitheater, and has been 
called by us The Transept. Though only of the second or third order of 
magnitude among the lateral excavations along the Grand Canon, it is far 
grander than Yosemite. At the very head of the gorge the walls plunge 
downwards at once more than 3,000 feet. As the gorge deepens towards 
its junction with the main amphitheater the aspect of the lateral walls, as 
they recede from us, becomes most imposing. The details of their sculp- 
ture are very beautiful and thoroughly systematic, and every characteristic 
is sustained throughout their whole extent. The entire length of the cham- 
ber is seen in perspective. Beyond its opening we see the grandeur of the 
central canon with butte beyond butte, and the vast southern wall of the 
main chasm in the background fifteen miles awa}^. To many spectators 
the dominant thought here might be that this stupendous work has been 
accomplished by some intelligence akin to the human rather than by the 
blind forces of nature. Everything is apparently planned and cut with as 
much definiteness of design as a rock-temple of Petrsea or Ellore. 

Another interesting locality is the cape where the Transept joins the 
main amphitheater. It is easily reached from Thompson's Spring. Here 
is disclosed the 



Altogether it is perhaps the finest of" those of the first order. It is the 
longest and deepest of any, and is also the narrowest. Its length is about 
fifteen miles, its width varies from two to three miles, and through the 
greatest part of its extent it is cut deeply into the granite. A fine large 
creek of clear water flows along its bottom and enters the Colorado. Its 
walls, more than 5,000 feet in height, are majestic in the extreme, and pre- 
sent the noblest forms. Upon its southern side and along the lower portion 
the promontory which separates it from the amphitheater next beyond has 
been carved into a cloister butte, which is one of the finest of its class. 
Upon its thicker parts are planted pagodas, which are terminated above by 
sharp finials. The projecting wings include grand alcoves between them, 
which toward sunset are filled with a "dim relig-ious liffht," commino-led 
with a tenuous haze suggestive of the smoke of incense. The walls which 
encircle these recesses ascend in awful grandeur, as rich in sculpture as a 
Gothic cathedi'al. Beyond is the throng of temples and the dominant faijade 
of the further canon wall. It is a repetition of the scenery which over- 
powers us at Point Sublime, unchanged in style and undiminished in grandeur. 
There are many spots, and this is only one of them, where comparisons 
seem no longer possible. Each is far beyond the power of the faculties to 
comprehend it, and no one of them greatly exceeds the others. They differ 
as the turns of the kaleidoscope differ from each other. But they never grow 
monotonous. When the mind has once wrestled with this scenery it feels 
its own insignificance, but it does not grow listless, nor lose its enthu- 
siasm. It is rather disciplined and brought into a calmer and better regu- 
lated mood and the better fitted to enjoy it. 

Thompson's Spring is also the starting-point from which to visit the 
extreme southern portion of the Kaibab. It is the southernmost spring 
which can be depended upon to furnish good water. There is a lagoon 
further south, which in ordinary seasons retains water through the summer, 
but the quality is by no means of the best, and it is desirable to carry a 
supply in kegs from the spring. Ascending Thompson's ravine about a 
mile, we leave it by a side gulch and pass over two broad ridges, keeping a 


general course towards the east. It is necessary to make a detour in order' 
to head the Bright Angel Amphitheater, which is very long, and is eroded 
so far back into the plateau that its upper end is only a little more than a 
mile from the main eastern flank of the plateau, and the portion of the 
Kaibab south of it is almost isolated from the main mass. At length the 
trail leads down into a ravine of unusual depth, with very steep banks. A 
few hundred yards below it plunges into the vast depth of the great amphi- 
theater. There is a very small spring* in the bottom of the ravine a few 
hundred yards above the point where the trail reaches the bottom, but it is 
hardly available, and yields but a very few gallons per day. Climbing the 
southern bank, we once more reach the summit platform, and a mile further 
on we find a large lagoon. Its water is stagnant and strongly impregnated 
with vegetable matter, but it is incomparably better than that which we are 
sometimes compelled to use at the pockets in the desert. If a protracted 
stay is made at the south end of the Kaibab, there is no alternative but to 
send back to this lagoon for a supply for camp purposes and to sustain the 
animals. In very dry seasons its contents are wholly evaporated before the 
summer or early autumn is over. The picturesqueness of the spot, how- 
ever, is some compensation for the inferiority of the water. Very lovely is 
the sylvan scenery of the Kaibab summit. It never fails. Wherever we 
go the grand old trees are above us and the grassy lawn beneath our feet. 
The ground is unencumbered with undergrowth, and the beautiful vistas of 
open parks, winding glades, and vanishing avenues of tree trunks, the long 
nodding grasses, and flowers, invite the fancy to wander forever in Paradise. 
From the lagoon our course is nearly southward. Crossing several 
ravines athwart our path, we at length follow downwards the course of one 
leading southwestward. The trail "scatters" and is finally lost, and our 
way is literally in the pathless woods. As the ravine grows more rugged, 
and deepens and narrows rapidly, we interpret its meaning to be a near 
approach to its termination at some lateral chasm. Ascending its left bank 
to the upper platform, a ride of half a mile brings us to the verge of the 

* I have been particular to note the locations of the few springs on the Kaibab, because they are 
of the utmost importance to the traTeler. 



It is one of the first order of magnitude with several branches, and 
about as grand as any. It is notable for its magnificent display of buttes. 
These wonderful structures seem to grow more picturesque, more ornate, 
and more numerous as we approach the head of the Grand Cailon, and, 
though none of them are of such vast dimensions as Shiva's Temple, they 
are still of enormous magnitude and much more elaborately designed and 
more sumptuously carved. Perhaps the butte-work has it climax here, 
though it is well developed everywhere in tlie Kaibab division. The 
facades are exceedingly tortuous and full of great alcoves. The lavish 
wealth of this kind of display is its most remarkable feature. Very im- 
pressive, too, are the branch amphitheaters. These features are more simple 
and concentrated when considered by themselves than the panoramic spec- 
tacles in the principal amphitheaters or in the central chasm. In truth it is 
difficult to suggest anything which appeals more strongly to the sense of 
magnitude and at the same time satisfies it more completely tlian the down- 
ward look into one of these vast chambers of the second or third order. 
The Transept is perhaps the most perfect and pleasing of them all, but 
there are many others which fall short of it only in an immaterial degree. 
There are several fine ones in the Ottoman Amphitheater, and one especially 
which is even larger than the Transept and only a little less perfect in exe- 
cution. The simplicity of the work, its symmetry, the definiteness of pro- 
file, the sustained character, arouse the mind at once, and the magnitude 
of it can be appreciated the more fully because the attention is not dis- 
tracted by an endless number of objects, all of which are about equally 

We can easily spend a whole day skirting the branches of the Ottoman 
Amphitheater without halting to contemplate anj^thing in detail, but merely 
viewing them as we pass It is much smaller than the Tapeats or Shinumo, 
and a little smaller than the Hindoo or Bright Angel, but larger than several 
others of which no mention can here be made. The circuit of any one of 
these mighty recesses is a long, arduous day's journey by the shortest pos- 


sible route, and around some of them it cannot be made in less than two, 
without excessive diiving. 

Passing around the head of the central and main branch of the amphi- 
theater, we pause for a time to look into its depths and contemplate the 
o-randeur of its walls. Moving onward seven or eight miles further towards 
the south, we at length reach the end of a promontorj^, from which we be- 
hold a panorama of the central chasm rivaling in grandeur that of Point 
Sublime. A part of it, however, is obscured by a vast cloister-butte in 
front of the cape and in close proximity to us. But though it hides what 
hes beyond, it is in itself so imposing that it compensates the loss. To the 
south and west the vista of the Grrand Canon stretches away in the fullest 
measure of its sublimity. The congregation of wonderful structures, count- 
less and vast, the profound lateral chasms, the still lower but unseen depths 
of the central abyss that holds the river, and the overwhelming palisade of 
the southern wall, are much the same in their general effects as at Point 
Sublime ; but the kaleidoscope is turned and the arrangement differs. We 
named this place Cape Royal. It may be considered as dividing with one 
other headland the distinction of being the end of the Kaibab. 

Leaving the point, we make a detour to the eastward and descend into 
a large ravine and mount the platform beyond it. A ride of four or five 
miles brings us to the promontory, which we named Cape Final. Here 
we command a view of the head of the Grand Canon. The scenery is in a 
large measure changed, not only in the arrangement of its parts but in its 
character. The portion of the panorama which includes the chasm is, in 
the main, similar to what we have seen from other commanding points, and 
so far is it from being diminished in grandeur that it may in some respects 
be regarded as the finest of all. But the chasm is only half the scene be- 
fore us. To tlie eastward is spread out in full view the great expanse of 
the Marble Canon platform, the Echo Clifts beyond, and in the dim distance 
the Cretaceous mesas about the San Juan. To the southeastward is the 
far off mesa country around the Moquis villages sixty or seventy miles away, 
and to the southward fifty miles distant rise the grand volcanic piles of the 
San Francisco Mountains. 

As we mount the parapet which looks down upon the cation the eye 






is at once caught by an object which seems to surpass in beauty anything 
we have yet seen. It is a gigantic butte, so admirably designed and so 
exquisitely decorated that the sight of it must call forth an expression of 
wonder and delight from the most apathetic beholder. Its summit is more 
than 5,000 feet above the river. Mr. Holmes' picture will convey a much 
more accurate idea of it than any verbal description can possibly do. We 
named it Vishnu's Temple. 

No point in the canon presents so much matter of interest to the geolo- 
gist as Cape Final. It is upon the crest of the East Kaibab monocline, 
and the local aspects of that displacement are remarkably clear. Looking 
southward across the river to the main wall, the strata are seen to possess 
a strong dip to the eastward, amounting to five or six degrees. This dip 
prevails through a distance of about six miles, and gradually increases the 
height of the southern wall by a corresponding amount. Or, conversely, 
the descent of the strata towards the east lowers the entire platform ; for 
the same upper stratum everywhere in these parts forms the surface of the 
country. The monocline beyond the river gi-adually dies out. But on the 
north side of the river, and directly in front of us as we face the eastward, 
its dip is seen to be much greater, amounting to ten or twelve degrees, and 
as we follow it northward along the eastern Kaibab front we shall find the 
dip still increasing at a slow rate. But as it smooths out south of the river 
we may observe that the locus of displacement is transferred to the west- 
ward, for we can very plainly discern an abrupt upward turn in the flexure 
exposed in the canon wall away to the westward. The dip for a short dis- 
tance is as great as 25° or more, and after it has brought up all the beds 
to the westward five hundred feet the strata flex back to horizontality. 
This sharp flexure manifests itself far south of the river and away from it 
by a long hillside facing the east. As the eye follows it along its strike it 
perceives it growing in altitude and becoming more and more abrupt until 
it presents a tall clifi", which, ten miles south of the river, seems to be nearly 
or quite a thousand feet high. At that distance the East Kaibab monochne 
has wholly disappeared. This clifi", which undoubtedly has a fault at its 
base, has taken up the displacement and carried it on to the southward as 
far as the eye can follow it. To this extent we may, with perfect confi- 

113 G 


dence, predict the structure of the country many miles away, though no 
geologist has yet visited the locality. 

To the east we can see the chasm of the Little Colorado as it approaches 
its junction with the Marble Canon. Little of it is disclosed. An ordinary 
canon seldom is seen until we are close upon its brink, and the canon of the 
Little Colorado, though of very grand proportions, cannot be traced far, 
though we are more than 2,000 feet above the plain in which it is sunken. 
The place where it opens into the chasm of the Colorado is somewhat arbi- 
trarily chosen as marking the lower end of the Marble Canon and the head 
of the Grand Canon. Here the Marble Canon descends from the north, and, 
after passing the junction of the Little Coloi-ado, the main chasm begins to 
pass, by a gradual transition, into the features of the Grrand Canon. The 
river sweeps around a long curve, changing its course to the westward, and 
enters the rising slope of the East Kaibab monocline. Through a distance 
of about ten miles from the junction the walls steadily rise more than two 
thousand feet higher, the abyss widens greatly, and the buttes, promonto- 
ries, amphitheaters, and side gorges make their appearance. 

The havoc wrought by erosion upon the slope of the monocline is 
extreme. Here the chasm is wider than at any other place, and the terrible 
scoring by side gorges is at its maximum. Owing to the greatly inclined 
attitudes of the strata the resulting forms are no longer beautiful, but shape- 
less and grotesque. The whole Carboniferous system has been cut away 
from the monocline just east of the point, and the lower rocks are laid bare. 
And these lower rocks, from a purely stratigraphic point of view, are extremely 
interesting. To these we now turn our attention. 


The Carboniferous series, 4,000 to 4,500 feet in thickness, is throughout 
this region perfectly conformable, so far as appearances go, from top to 
bottom. The lowest conformable group consists of a series of thinly 
bedded sandstones or quartzites, with a total thickness of about 180 to 200 
feet, They have already been spoken of as exceedingly obdurate in charac- 

I'. S. CEOl.OCIC.iL SVIil'F.y 


Ll^l ,11"' I'.'l' I / 

/'T — r 




ter, and wherever the river has cut through them their edges form a vertical 
ledge at the summit of the inner gorge. In the middle, and indeed through 
the greater portion of the Kaibab division, they rest immediately upon the 
Archaean schists. Wherever the opening of the inner gorge is disclosed, this 
ledge is a very conspicuous feature. At the head of the Grand Canon it is 
also visible and as prominent as elsewhere, but this lower group here rests 
no longer upon the Archaean. An enormous mass of stratified rocks of older 
date has made its appearance, and the Archgean is far beneath them, and 
upon this older mass the lower Carboniferous quartzites are seen to 
repose unconformably. The dip of the Carboniferous system, which is still 
under the influence of the vanishing East Kaibab monocline, is about 5 or 6 
degrees to the eastward. The dip of the strata beneath, though not quite in 
the same direction, is nearly so, and the amount of it is upon an average 14 
to 15 degrees. As each stratum rises up to the plane of contact with the 
quartzites it is beveled off and disappears. Careful scrutiny discloses in the 
exposed edges an old fault, with a displacement of about 1,200 or 1,300 feet, 
cutting the lower strata, but not affecting the Carboniferous above ; and the 
beds upon the lifted side (the throw or drop of the fault is upon its western 
side) are planed off to a continuous upper surface. Farther down the river 
is also disclosed an abrupt anticlinal fold in the series, which is also planed 
off to a uniform upper surface. For ten miles down stream this relation of 
the strata may be distinctly traced, showing a dip to the eastward which is 
visibly interrupted only by the fault and anticline just spoken of The view 
of it is at length lost behind the buttes. The "granite" is nowhere seen, but 
we know that it comes to the daylight only a mile or two beyond the point 
where the inner gorge winds out of sight. The thickness of this mass must 
be very great. As we follow down the river every mile of progress must 
bring up about a thousand feet of lower and lower beds, and the cumulative 
effects of this rise appear to be subject to subtraction only at the fault and 
anticline just spoken of. Altogether there must be at least 6,000 feet of 
them, and Professor PoAvell, who saw them in his descent of the river, esti- 
mates the total thickness at not far from 10,000 feet. Unless there are more 
faults or anticlines which ca-nnot be seen from Cape Final, his estimate i^ 
apparently justified, 


The age of this series is probably Silurian. Devonian beds may also 
be found in its upper part, but all that we can say about their age now is 
that they are pre-Carboniferous Lithologically, they appear at a distance 
very much like the rainbow beds at the base of the Trias and summit of the 
Permian in the Valley of the Virgen. The bedding is very uniform and 
regular. The colors are chocolate, purple, lavender, and magenta, of many 
tones and shades. If it were not for this powerful coloring, which discloses 
every band and layer with emphasis, and each with a habit peculiar to itself, 
we could not venture to assert so much about them as we have done. For 
we have been reading geology five to ten miles away from our rocks. But 
what are miles in this Brobdingnagian country! These things seem to lie 
at our very feet. 

Just where the comparatively narrow gorge of the Marble Canon ex- 
pands well out into the much ampler width of the Grand Canon, we per- 
ceive among the higher beds of this ancient series some layers which we do 
not hesitate to pronounce volcanic rocks — basalts or diabases. They are 
coal black, and contrast finely with the rich colors all around them. They 
are interbedded with the upper Silurian (?) strata, but whether they are 
intrusive sheets or contemporaneous coulees^ outpoured while the rocks were 
accumulating, we cannot say. The very dykes through which the lava 
came up are visible. Powell saw them on his boat journey down the river, 
but did not have an opportunity to investigate the many interesting questions 
which they suggest. 

Throughout the remainder of the canon, although the pre-Carbonifer- 
ous rocks are laid open for more than half the distance, there is no such 
exposure of early Paleozoic strata. Wherever the lower quartzites are cut 
through they are usually found resting upon the schists. In several places, 
however, remnants which correspond to the base of this Silurian series 
are disclosed between the quartzites and the schists, but the mass seldom 
exceeds 200 feet, and, perhaps, never reaches a thickness of 400 feet. A 
few Primordial trilobites have been found in these remnants. The meaning 
of this great unconformity obviously is that after a vast body of early Pale- 
ozoic strata had been laid down they were distorted by differential vertical 
movements, were flexed and faulted, and were elevated above the sea. 


They were then enoi-mously eroded. Across the belt of country bounded 
on the east by the longitude of Cape Final and extending as far west as the 
lower end of the Grand Canon, a rectilinear distance of nearly 110 miles, 
and, for aught we know, indefinitely further westward, nearly the whole 
mass of these strata was denuded. A few, and perhaps many, small rem- 
nants at the base of the series were preserved, but over most of the area 
the Archaean schists were laid bare and suffei'ed erosion. Still later the 
region was again submerged. Over the rugged country thus ravaged 4,500 
feet of Carboniferous beds and 9,000 to 10,000 feet of Mesozoic beds and, 
perhaps, 1,000 to 1,200 feet of lower Eocene (lacustrine) were deposited. 

It is with extreme regret that I am obliged to confess that there seemed 
to be no way to obtain access to these beds for the purpose of studying 
them in detail. At present they can be reached only by boat through the 
Marble Canon, and the locality can be left only by descending the Colorado 
as far as the Kanab Canon. There seemed to be no possible way of getting 
down the gigantic walls which inclose this valley of Rasselas. The Red 
Wall limestone is apparentl}^ everywhere a vertical escarpment a thousand 
feet high, except at some of the long spurs, where it breaks into needles and 
minarets, which look almost as hopeless. 

Point Final is doubtless the most interesting spot on the Kaibab. In 
pure grandeur it is about the same as Point Sublime, though less typical of 
the canon. The two localities differ much in the characteristics of the 
scenery. The former gives us, in addition to canon scenery, a vast pano- 
ramic view of the distant regions in the heart of the Plateau Province, 
where nothing is distinctly visible, but where the imagination perceives more 
than the eye. There is a dim vision of cliff upon cHff and throngs of richly- 
carved buttes, where the fancy runs riot, while the sober sense tells us that 
it is a mauvaise terre — a land of marvels indeed, but also a land of terrors and 

Leaving Point Final we return northward, keeping now near the east- 
ern front of the Kaibab. Here the great feature is the Kwagunt Valley, 
an excavation which is quite analogous to the ordinary amphitheaters of the 
first order, which we have already seen. It lies along the southern portion 
of the eastern base of the Kaibab, reaching up to the northward about 15 


miles from the river. Several large amphitheaters of the second and third 
orders open into it, scooped out of the great monocline, and these are always 
very fine and imposing. North of the Kwagunt is another one, cut out of 
the East Kaibab monocline, and it opens into the lower portion of the Mar- 
ble Canon. It compares favorably with the others. Further northward 
several large recesses are excavated in the eastern flank of the Plateau, but 
they all debouch upon the Marble Canon platform. These will be alluded 
to hereafter. 



'I'he principal displacements and general form of the plateau. — The West Kaibab fault. — The East 
Kaibab monocline. — Relations of these displacements to each other and their continuations south 
of the river. — The summit strata of the plateau. — Age of the uplifting of the mass. — The rela- 
tions of the Colorado Kiver to the plateau as bearing upon the question of age. — Ancient river 
channels. — House Eock Valley. — The moist climate of the Miocene and arid climate of the 
Pliocene. — Lower altitudes in former periods. — De Motte Park and its significance. — Ancient river 
channel on the summit. — The ravines of the Kaibab. — Their conformity to the structural slopes. — 
Exceptional character of the Park drainage. — The origin of the ravines conjectured to have been 
in the glacial period, which was rainy here without ice. — Considerations upon the amphitheaters 
excavated in the East Kaibab monocline. — The inferences drawn from them as to the age of the 

The Kaibab is a platform uplifted between two displacements. Upon 
its eastern side is a great monocline where the Carboniferous strata as we 
come from the east suddenly flex upwards and then flex back to horizon- 
tality upon its summit. Crossing the platform from east to west, and reach- 
ing its western margin, we perceive the same strata dropping suddenly by a 
gi'eat fault, and their continuation towards the west forms the Kanab Plateau 
The displacement upon the eastern flank is the East Kaibab monocline ; the 
one upon the western flank is the West Kaibab fault. Towards the north 
the two slowly converge and at last meet at a very acute angle in the 
vicinity of the little village of Paria and at the base of the Vermilion Cliffs. 
The Kaibab platform between them, thei'efore, terminates in a cusp. Since 
the two dislocations throw in opposite directions, the result of their union is 
a single flexure having an amount of displacement equal to the difiierence of 
the two at the point of junction ; and this flexure continues northward through 
the terraces on the eastern side of the Paria Amphitheater and extends into 
the High Plateaus 

The courses of these two displacements southward from Paria village 

are not straight lines, but curves convex towards the west. Their relations 




to each other may be conceived by recalHng the image of the crescent 
moon. The outer curve or "limb" might answer to the form of the West 
Kaibab fault; the inner curve or "terminator" to the form of the East 
Kaibab flexure ; the included horn to the form of the northern portion of the 
plateau. But the southern portion has no such analogy. 

For many miles south of the Paria these dislocations preserve great 
simplicity of character, but as they approach the Colorado River they 
undergo changes and gradually die out. The West Kaibab fault is the first 
to resolve. For about 40 miles it is a simple fault, gradually increasing in 
the amount of its shear from 500 to about 1,800 feet. At this point the 
thrown platform of the Kanab Plateau on the west begins to rise quite 
notably, and slowly brings up the edges of the thrown strata towards the 
level of the Kaibab summit, thus diminishing the fault. About ten miles 
further on a new parallel fault begins, tlu'owing also to the west, and the 
total shear is distributed between the original fault and its neighbor. 

Further on a third parallel fault appears, and the displacement is dis- 
tributed among the three, which thus form a series of "step-faults" Mean- 
time, the Kanab platform has been rapidly rising southwardly, while the 
Kaibab has increased its altitude only a very little; and that abrupt escarp- 
ment which separated the northern part of the Kaibab from the Kanab has 
gradually faded out. But it has not wholly vanished, though it has become 
profoundly modified. In the north a great wall, more than a thousand feet 
high, separates the two; further southward the wall diminishes in height; 
at length the single wall becomes two steps; further on it becomes three 
steps, the heights of which continually decrease; and at last it becomes an 
inclined plane, sloping about 1.^° to 2° towards the west, and all the faults 
have vanished or have been replaced by new dislocations trivial in amount. 

The East Kaibab displacement undergoes another set of modifications. 
For more than thirty miles south of Paria it is a simple and abrupt mono 
cline. Near the head of House Rock Valley the monocline divides into 
two steps. This is common enough in faults, but that the same sort 
of phenomenon should be presented by a simple monoclinal flexure is 
very significant and adds another illustration of the complete homology 
between faults and monoclines. The duplex character of the displacement 


is preserved for a distance of about thirty miles further south, and then it 
reverts to its simple and single form. Thence onward the fold gradually 
smooths out, becoming less inclined but much wider. The amount of dis- 
placement, however, does not at first diminish very rapidly, for though the 
inclination of the strata becomes rapidly less, it also becomes wider; the 
hill is less steep but it is longer. At length as we approach the Colorado 
the displacement dwindles more rapidly, and a few miles south of the river 
it gradually vanishes. But in the meantime a new displacement parallel to 
it has made its appearance further to the west, and this is well worth study- 
ing, for the indications are that it is a reappearance of the West Kaibab 
fault, greatly changed in its course or trend and its displacement reversed. 
Reverting here for a moment to the West Kaibab fault, we find it leaving 
the Paria neighborhood with a soiithwesterly course, gradually changing to 
the south and then southeast. As it nears the Grand Canon its throw 
greatly diminishes, and I believe it vanishes entirely about four miles north 
of the brink. At all events, nothing has been seen of it near the brink. 
But looking across the chasm from the north side a flexure is seen in the 
great wall upon the southern side, truly monoclinal in form, with a displace- 
ment of about 450 feet. It is in the line of continuation of the vanishing 
main branch of the West Kaibab fault and its throw is reversed. Its eastern 
side is dropped, while the proper West Kaibab fault drops its western side. 
This reversal of throw is a feature not uncommon in the long faults of the 
High Plateaus as we follow them in their immense longitudinal extensions. 
Thus, by a very curious, though 23erfectly intelligible process, the displace- 
ment which constitutes the western side of the plateau has gotten upon the 
eastern side. South of the chasm it continues with a southeasterly course, 
becoming a true fault and increasing in the amount of shearing for nearly 
twenty miles. Its further extension and method of resolution is not at 
present known. 

All of the displacements of the Kaibab thus far observed are of very 
simple character, being true faults or monoclines with comparatively little 
complication or subordinate fracture at the fault planes. We may note, 
however, in the West Kaibab fault and in the parallel step faults into which 
it divides, that feature which is so frequently observed in many of the great 


displacements of the district — viz., the turning down of the edges of the 
thrown beds in the vicinity of the fault-plane. This is revealed very strik- 
ingly in Stewart's Canon at the elbow where it turns abruptly to the west 
to join Kanab Caiion. It is also seen upon the east side of the outlying 
mass called Powell's Plateau, which is separated from the Kaibab by a 
gorge about 1,200 feet deep. One of the steps of the fault cuts through 
this gorge, and the edges of the beds upon the west side are seen to be 
turned down. The same feature is observed in the extension of this fault 
southward into the mazes of the canon, and it is revealed in the great 
buttes and in the plinth walls of the cloisters, which fill the ample expanse 
of the chasm. 

The plateau mass between its bounding displacements is very nearly 
horizontal. Not quite so, however. The strata are just perceptibly arched 
in a broad anticlinal swell. The dip, however, even near the edges, where 
it is a maximum, does not exceed 2°, until (upon the eastern side) the influ- 
ence of the monocline is felt, and then the strata suddenly turn down at a 
great angle. It was for a time suspected that the basin of De Motte Park 
was the result of the dropping of a wedge-like mass between two faults, 
but more careful study renders it certain that it is an ancient valley of 

The continuation of the Kaibab Plateau upon the southern side of the 
Grand Canon has no definition except upon the east. The fault which has 
already been alluded to gives rise to a slope wliich gradually becomes a 
high and abrupt cliff facing northeast and forming the eastern boundary of 
the plateau. Westward the platform declines by a very gentle slope, and 
grades into the general expanse of the Colorado Plateau without any line of 

The altitude of the Kaibab at the highest point is about 9,300 feet 
above the sea. From De Motte Park northward it slowly declines. The 
altitude of the southern portion above the Paria or Marble Canon platform 
lying eastward is from 2,700 to 3,600 feet. Its altitude above the Kanab 
platform on the west is very variable, but ranges from 1,000 to 2,300 feet, 
according to the places in close proximity which are compared. 

Neglecting the minor inequalities, the general surface of the plateau 


conforms very closely to the upper surface of the Aubrey limestones. The 
principal inequalities have their origin in the unequal amounts of uplifting 
which have prevailed in a platform of beds that once were horizontal. In 
other words, they are almost wholly structural, and not imposed upon the 
mass by unequal erosion. 

The principal points in the history of the evolution of the Kaibab may 
be discerned b}^ a comparative study of the drainage and displacements. 
The argument here adopted is not a new one, but it is to be carried to an 
unprecedented extent. Its validity can only be judged by the result. In 
other countries — in regions where the geological data are more obscure — its 
application would be very doubtful and perhaps impossible; but here the 
data are exceptionally plain and definite, and enable us to co-ordinate the 
facts and draw conclusions with a high degree of confidence. 

It has repeatedly been remarked that the principal structural features 
of the Grand Canon district are comparatively recent in their origin, prob- 
ably going back no further than the early Pliocene, while the principal 
drainage channels are as old as the epoch at which the lacustrine period 
terminated. We infer that the establishment of the drainage is older than 
the structural features, because if we suppose otherwise, then the drainage 
would have been very differently distributed from that which now exists. 
For example, let us suppose that the Grand Canon were fiUed up evenly 
with the summit of the cliffs which overlook it. The Colorado River being 
thus dammed, a large lake would be formed. When the inflowing waters 
had filled this lake the outlet would be at the northern extremity of the 
Kaibab near Paria. Hex'e is the lowest barrier which would keep the water 
from the ocean. Supposing Kanab Canon to be also filled up, the coui'se 
of the waters would be to the westward, and they would finally pour over 
the Hurricane Ledge at a point near that where the Virgen crosses it. This 
is the course which the Colorado would take if the present structural con- 
figuration were to determine it anew. The inevitable inference is that the 
course of the river could not have been determined by the existing structure, 
and must have been fixed by a configuration older than the present one. 
The mind therefore recurs to the earliest period, far back in the Eocene, 
when the waters of the lake receded and left a river running in the deepest 


part of its basin. The gradual elevation of the entire region was the cause 
of the gradual desiccation of the lake, and the channel through which its 
waters escaped, once established, could not have been changed without leav- 
ing some indication of the process which could have effected such a change. 
A powerful river traversing a region which is undergoing a great amount of 
uplifting must ever sink its channel deeper and deeper in the strata, and its 
position must be growing more and more immutable. 

The present position of the Grand and Marble canons, therefore, is the 
locus of the deepest part of the Eocene lake. This conclusion is reached by 
another course of reasoning. If we restore the strata to the condition of 
horizontality, if we replace in imagination the bodies of Mesozoic and lower 
Eocene strata which have been denuded, we shall be led to infer the exist- 
ence of a vast and nearly level platform coextensive with the great areas now 
draining into those canons. But if we suppose the strata to have thickened 
as they approached their shore-lines we should also infer the existence of 
two converging slopes, one descending from the northwest, the other from 
the southwest, and meeting in a line very near and perhaps exactly in the 
position of these canons. Thus, the law of persistence of rivers and the 
analysis of the vertical movements of the region bring us to the same con- 
clusion. The study of the tributaries also tends to the same result. The 
Kanab and Paria rivers are plainly independent of the inequalities of 
uplifting, and must be older than the displacements. 

These tributaries shed further light upon the earliest condition of the 
Kaibab area. The Kanab and Paria are apparently as old as the Colo- 
rado, and had their origin in the same train of events. Each represents a 
subordinate and lateral drainage basin, and between the two lay a certain 
extent of higher ground. Just at the base of the East Kaibab flexure is 
House Rock Valley, which once held a river which has long since van- 
ished, though leaving well-mai-ked traces of its former action. This inter- 
mediate valley divides the interval between the Kanab and Paria basins 
into two masses ; the western is the Kaibab, the eastern is the Paria, pla- 
teau. None of the great displacements which traverse these masses had 
any existence at that remote epoch. 

The earliest condition of the Kaibab, then, is inferred to have been 


merely a slight elevation between the Kanab and House Rock valleys. 
The subsequent events which have made it what it is may be discerned in 
studying the combined effects of erosion and unequal uplifting. 

The great erosion which has removed so vast a body of strata from 
this region is believed to have been chiefly the work of Eocene and Miocene 
time. The general uplifting, which has prevailed throughout the entire 
extent of the West, had its inception in Eocene time. This is indicated by 
the gradual but somewhat rapid transition of the older areas from a marine 
and estuarine condition to the lacustrine, by the progressive shrinkage of 
the great Eocene lakes and the cessation of widely extended deposition of 
strata. The lake basins, becoming dry, were at once attacked by the de- 
grading forces, and as they rose higher the efficiency of the degrading 
forces augmented. Such indications as we now possess as to the climatal 
condition of the region in those periods are somewhat meager, but are still 
sufficient to warrant the belief that the climate was moist and subtropical. 
Here and there in the surrounding regions we find remnants of temporary 
lakes, some of them of great size, which disclose in their strata abundant 
forms of vegetable and animal life, among which are remains of mammalia 
of great size, with numerous species. These fossils and their associations 
all imply a great exuberance of animal and vegetable life which is hardly 
possible without a moist climate— a climate certainly much moister than 
that now prevailing there, though not necessarily extreme in this respect. 
The palms, which constituted some of the most abundant vegetable forms, 
also show that it was much warmer than at present. Thus a region under- 
going progressive elevation with a moist warm climate may be inferi'ed to 
have wasted away rapidly under the action of degrading forces. 

There are as yet no known facts which enable us to mark the periods 
of Tertiary time and co-ordinate them with those which have been estab- 
lished in other regions. Yet there are indications which point to the con- 
clusion that after the vast body of Mesozoic beds had been in great part 
swept away, the denuding forces for a time abated their destructive energy, 
and indirectly we may infer that this diminution of the degrading forces 
had its epoch not far from the close of the Miocene. The great denudation 
up to that epoch had been going on vigorously throughout the whole of 


the Miocene age and through at least two-thirds of the Eocene, and though 
we may not reckon this period in terms of centuries we cannot doubt that 
it was a vast one, and sufficient, under favorable conditions, for an enor- 
mous amount of waste. The work of removing nearly 10,000 feet of strata 
from a great area is a formidable thing to contemplate, but under the given 
conditions the time-factor will no doubt be regarded as being commensu- 
rate. What aspect the country presented during this great stretch of time 
we have no means of judging. All records of even the broader details 
have vanished with the strata. We only infer that not far from the close 
of the Miocene the great mass of Mesozoic beds had been in chief part 
denuded ; that the resulting platform of the Grand Canon district was at a 
much lower level than at present, and probably not very far above the sea- 
level. The canon of the Colorado either did not exist at all at that time or 
was at most only just begun. 

At this epoch the climate gradually became more and more arid. 
Although the evidence of this is not found in the district itself, it appears 
conclusively in the regions adjoining it. It is a remarkable fact that the 
Pliocene lake-basins, both north and south af the Grand Canon district, 
exhibit saline deposits, while the earlier lake beds show nothing of the kind. 
A saline lake-deposit means an arid climate — small feeble streams flow- 
ing into an inclosed basin, which they cannot fill to overflowing, because 
evaporation is so rapid that it keeps pace with the influx. And as the ad- 
joining regions were arid, so also we conclude was the Grand Canon district. 
This inference is further sustained by the fact that those traces of Pliocene 
erosion which are here and there preserved have the cliaracteristics which 
belong to the sculptural forms of an arid region. These are ancient canons 
with abrupt walls in the more adamantine strata which have survived the 
ravage of later periods. Thus, through the Pliocene the conditions were 
unfavorable to a very rapid rate of degradation. During the glacial period, 
however, this rate must have been vastly greater ; but, if we are to attach 
any value to current estimates of the relative duration of geological periods, 
this episode was comparatively brief At its close the climate lapsed back 
to its former aridit}" . 


It will now become apparent why we infer that at the commencement 
of the Pliocene by far the greatest part of that great denudation which 
swept away the Mesozoic beds had been accomplished. Before that epoch 
(early Pliocene) a moist climate prevailed for an immense stretch of geo- 
logical time — the whole of the Miocene and most of the Eocene — and the 
region was rising. Since that epoch an arid climate has for the most part 
prevailed, and the period of its prevalence has been much shorter. We 
cannot doubt that the longer duration of a more efficient cause must have 
produced a far greater erosion than the much shorter duration of a less 
efficient cause. The exact ratio of the results produced in the two dura- 
tions, respectively, cannot indeed be determined; but we cannot well avoid 
the conclusion that the dispai'ity was very great. 

The reason for believing that at the beginning of Pliocene time the 
district was at a much lower level than at present is equally forcible. The 
East Kaibab monocline and the Grand Wash fault, which bound the Grrand 
Canon district, cannot have originated at an older epoch than the one in 
question. They mark the difference between the amount of final elevation 
of the district and of the regions on either side of it. It is true that a fault 
may indicate either an absolute uplift on one side or a downthrow on the 
other. Which interpretation shall in any given case be adopted turns upon 
collateral facts. In the present instance there is no reason for hesitation. 
The Grand Canon district is obviously an uplift between the two above- 
mentioned displacements. The other view raises insuperable difficulties at 
once. It would require us to believe that the whole country extending in- 
definitely east of the Kaibab had once been several thousand feet higher 
than at present, and subsequently subsided without leaving any evi- 
dence of such an event; and the same inference would be applicable to the 
region extending from the Grand Wash indefinitely westward. Such arbi- 
trary and needless assumptions are not worthy of consideration. The only 
rational conclusion left us is that the Grand Canon platform has been raised 
since the Miocene by an unknown amount, though a part of that amount is 
directly indicated in the displacements now observable on either side of it. 
The reduction of these displacements to their original condition would 
diminish the altitude of any given stratum from 2,500 to ;!,500 feet upon the 


eastern side of the district, and more than 6,000 feet upon the western side. 
And if, as is most probable, there has been a general upward movement 
during Pliocene time affecting all of that portion of the continent the 
change of altitude has been correspondingly greater. The amount of this 
more general upheaval can be deduced for the whole of Tertiary and Qua- 
ternary time, but how much was accomplished before the advent of the 
Pliocene, and how much since, it is impossible to say. 

It is necessary to remark here, that the reference of this divisional 
epoch to the commencement of Pliocene time ought to be considered with 
some qualifications. It should be borne in mind that a strict correlation of 
geological periods is here impossible. We have within the district no Plio- 
cene beds and no Pliocene fossils. Nevertheless, events point to that epoch 
as the approximate one, when the present order of things took their forms 
and relations. The error cannot be great. 

With the Pliocene, as thus understood, the Kaibab began to have a 
distinct existence. Probably at this time the great East Kaibab monocline 
began to develop itself It is older than the Hurricane fault, and older than 
either of the displacements which occur between it and the Grand Wash. 
The reasons for assigning an eai'ly Pliocene date for the East Kaibab 
monocline may be found in a comparison of the drainage channels. The 
problem is a charming one, carrying the requisite data for a satisfactory 
conclusion, but it is also complex and difficult to present clearly to a reader 
who has not thoroughly traversed the ground and made himself familiar 
with the surface topography of the plateau. Nevertheless, the attempt 
must be made, and if it fails to convey a clear idea of the facts presented, 
and therefore fails to convey a clear conception of the interpretation of 
them, it must be attributed to the difficulty which always attends the effort 
to draw a mental picture of a distant region from a merely graphic descrip- 

Along the greater part of the length of the Kaibab, and keeping very 
near to the median or axial line of the summit of the plateau, there is a long 
and comparatively narrow valley. The depth of this valley is from 200 to 
400 feet, and its width is from one to two miles. It is seen in the northern 
part of the summit, where it is rather shallower than in the middle portion. 


De Motte Park is a portion of the same depression. Farther north it diverges 
from this median or axial position, and trends off shghtly toward the south- 
west, ending at last upon the brink of the great chasm. In several places 
the valley bottom, as we follow it from north to south, reverses its grade. 
But in general there is a slight upward slope for more than forty miles, 
until we reach the "Sylvan Gate," at the foot of the larger De Motte Park. 
Passing through the gate the grade of the valley descends toward the south. 
When the geologists first visited the plateau they were considerably per- 
plexed by this long valley or chain of valleys. They observed that from 
the summits which overlook them on either side nearly all the drainage 
channels flowed away from it, and very few flowed into it. Upon these 
summits the numberless ravines took their rise — those upon the western side 
flowing away from it like rays in every direction west of the meridian, those 
upon the eastern side also flowing away from it, but not in the same man- 
mer. The origin of these summit ravines, their courses, and their distribu- 
tion, were easily explained, but the origin of the median chain of parks which 
separated the eastern drainage-plexus from the western was a mystery. 
Powell and Gilbert were at first inclined to suspect that a long, narrow 
wedge on the summit of the plateau had dropped between two faults, but 
no faults could be discerned, and they abandoned the supposition. During 
the last season a thorough survey of the drainage system was made, and I 
think the mystery may now be cleared up. In the first place, the existence 
of the supposed faults was positively disproven by the discovery of the cross- 
bedded sandstone of the Aubrey group just where it ought to be in case no 
faults exist, or where it could not be if the faults did exist. In the second 
place, the chain of valleys is the locus of an ancient river which once flowed 
from the north and emptied into the Colorado. This i-iver was far more 
ancient than any of the other drainage channels now scoring the surface of 
the Kaibab, which are all of comparatively recent origin. What antiquity 
should be assigned to it may not be altogether established, but by far the 
most probable supposition is that it is as old as the Colorado itself and its 
tributaries, the Kanab, Paria, and Little Colorado. We are not concerned, 
however, to find an origin so remote as these, but only to find that it ante- 
dates the Pliocene. That it belongs to the system of drainage which pi'e- 

13 G 


vailed when the structural conformation of the country was very different 
from the present one is self-evident. The course of its valley for the most 
part is against the structural and topographical slopes, and therefore the 
river was older than those sloj^es. That is to say, when this valley carried 
a living stream, the Kaibab as a distinct plateau had no existence. 

Two causes may be readily discerned which destroyed this river. The 
first was the arid climate of the Pliocene, which greatly reduced its water 
supply. The second was the peculiar distribution of the uplifting, which, 
being greater along the lower courses of the river than along the upper 
reaches, had a tendency to reverse the slope of its channel. But Kanab 
Creek has persisted to the present day in spite of similar adverse condi- 
tions, and has maintained itself by cutting down its channel as fast as the 
country rose. But in the extinct river of the Kaibab a still more adverse 
arrangement of the uplifting destroyed it. For the uplifting was of such a 
distribution that the river was left upon the axis of a water-shed instead of 
in a broad drainage-basin, and was thus deprived of tributaries and feeders. 

At what epoch was this river destroyed? It perished at the epoch 
when the Colorado was running in the cross-bedded sandstone of the Upper 
Aubrey group, 5,000 feet above its present bed! If we follow its channel 
from the park toward the confluence with the Colorado, we find it sinking 
to the surface of this adamantine stratum, and a few yards into it. At last 
the valley ends suddenly in the mighty wall of the chasm, and from its 
trough we look down upon the great river a mile below and three or four 
miles beyond us. When the valley sustained a living- stream it must have 
done just what the other tributaries did — cut down its bed in harmony with 
the Colorado itself. When its waters ceased to flow the valley ceased to 
deepen. It has never carried a stream since, and has never grown materi- 
ally deeper. Its present floor marks the horizon upon which its waters 
ceased to run, and where the Colorado left it and continued to sink deeper 
through the succeeding ages. But the cross-bedded sandstone is within 600 
or 700 feet of the summit of the canon wall, and when the Colorado was 
running over it the work of excavating the present Grand Canon had just 
begun. Already the reasons have been given for referring this epoch to the 
beginning of the Pliocene. 


Thus, the destruction of this ancient tributary, itself a member of the 
early Tertiary river system, is associated with the movement which uplifted 
the Kaibab, and with the great monocline by which that movement is indi- 
cated and in part measured, and the epoch of these events relatively to the 
age of the river is also determined. The validity of this reasoning is attested 
by a great and complex array of facts, and it brings into wonderful har- 
mony and order a mass of observations which otherwise are inexplicable. 
At the risk of becoming prolix, I venture to cite some examples of facts 
which give independent support to the conclusions just drawn. 

The whole surface of the Kaibab is covered with a maze of ravines, of 
which a description has already been given in Chapter VII. These are de- 
lineated with great care by Mr. Bodfish in Atlas sheets 11 to 14 inclusive. 
Those which are found upon the western side of the De Motte Park radiate 
away from it in all directions between northwest and south-southwest. But 
not one of them flows into the park. On the eastern side there are two dis- 
tinct groups of drainage channels separated by a subordinate watershed, or 
divide, which extends from the summit overlooking De Motte Park east-' 
ward to the brink of the plateau. The northern plexus flows eastward and 
northeastward ; the southern plexus flows southward and southwestward. 
The former passes down into vast gorges and amphitheaters cut into the 
great monocline and debouches upon the Marble Canon platform ; the lat- 
ter descends into the amphitheaters of the Grand Canon. The origin of 
these innumerable ravines is apparent at a glance. With a very few ex- 
ceptions, they all follow the structural and general topog'raphical slopes of 
the plateau. If they could all be filled up again and the surface of the 
country smoothed off evenly with the sui-face of the upper Aubrey lime- 
stone and then left to the action of copious rains, the ravines would form 
anew and the new ones would have nearly the same general arrangement, 
the same general courses, the same general aspect, as those which now 
exist. Some slight structural changes may have occurred since the present 
channels were formed, and these might produce differences in the supposed 
new arrangement, but they would be of small amount. What better evidence 
than this could there be that these ravines were laid out and cut after the 


plateau had received its present structure, and that they were determined 
by it? 

But the great park valley is in complete contrast to all this. Throughout 
its northern portions its course is in direct opposition to the structural slopes 
and throughout its southern portion it lies obliquely across them. Every- 
where it is independent of them. What better evidence could there be that 
it was laid out before the plateau had received its present structure and that 
it was not determined by it ? Its greater antiquity than that of the other 
valleys is attested by many evidences. Its aspect is strikingly different. 
It is very wide while the others are very narrow. The widening of valleys 
is a familiar phenomenon in this region. Tliose canons which are now dry 
are everywhere widening without becoming deeper. 

The other ravines are not apparently very old. My conjecture is that 
they had their origin in the glacial period. In this region that period was 
not properly glacial, but rainy. Not a trace of glacial action is discovera- 
ble upon the Kaibab. But the evidence of a much moister climate than 
the present one in southern Utah and Arizona is conclusive. The exist- 
ence of such lakes as Bonneville and Lahontan during the glacial period 
admits of no other interpretation. The ravines of the Kaibab were un- 
questionably scoured out by running water. At the present time such 
action has entirely ceased, and it is probable that the ravines are very 
slowly filling up with soil and sand, and it is certain that they are not deep- 
ening.* I can frame no conjecture so satisfactory as that which supposes 
that during the glacial period the rainfall was sufficient to sustain living 
streams in these ravines and that they were then carved by running water. 
Prior to the glacial period the climate was arid hke the present. In a coun- 
try like this, where the strata are liorizontal or dip but slightly, the effect 
of an arid climate upon the drainage is to obliterate the greater part of the 
channels and to increase the area of the individual drainage basins. A few 

' lu Chapter VII I have adverted to the fact, that although the rainfall of the Kaihab is very 
considerable — perhaps 25 or 30 inches per annum — there is not a living stream upon its surface. In an 
ordinary region such a precipitation would sustain many creeks and brooks. But here the water sinks 
at cnce into the earth and reappears in the profouuder depths of the great amphitheaters and gorges 
which open into the Grand Canon. The case is a very striking and suggestive one and seems to be 
analogous to the limestone country of Kentucky. The existence of subterranean streams beneath the 
Kaibab is apparently well attested. They emerge usually from galleries situated at the base of the Red 
Wall group and sometimes still lower. 


channels are kept open; having large basins, which furnish water enough, 
even though it be in the form of intermittent supply, to maintain a canon 
and corrade its bed. This is seen to-day all over the Kanab and Uinkaret 
Plateaus. During the Pliocene the same obliterating process probably 
prevailed upon the Kaibab. 

If, then, the great number of drainage channels upon the plateau took 
their origin at the beginning of the glacial period, the park valley must be 
much older. But we could not well suppose that it originated during the 
arid period of the Pliocene in a climate which dries up rivers instead of 
creating them, and we must therefore go farther back. It seems plain that 
the river was running during the periods of the great denudation — during 
the Eocene and Miocene, or certainly during the late Miocene — and that 
it became extinct when this denudation had been nearly or quite accom- 
plished. The reasons for assigning this epoch to the beginning of the Plio- 
cene or thereabout have already been given. Thus we arrive at the same 
conclusion as before. In reaching it we may note by the way the satis- 
factory manner in which our first perplexity is removed concerning the 
relation — or, rather, want of relation — between the park valley and the other 
drainage channels. We could at first discover no solution of their origin 
which would apply to both. But when the topographical details had been 
mastered and grouped in the mind the true explanation seemed to stand 
forth cleai-ly and unmistakably. And when the facts of the drainage were 
placed in relation with those of upheaval and again with those of climate, 
the whole took forin and coherence and disclosed a history, the verity of 
which needs no better support than its self-consistency. 

The conclusions drawn from the study of the Uinkaret now appear to 
be confirmed by the study of the Kaibab. We find certain facts common 
to both plateaus, and their relations and logical grouping are apparently 
identical. Both localities tell the same consistent stoiy. Each, however, 
possesses features peculiar to itself. But the peculiarities in no respect con- 
flict; on the contrary, they contribute separate quotas of strong circum- 
stantial evidence of the verity of the main conclusions. 

Before closing this part of the subject it may be well to advert to the 
great amphitheaters excavated in the monocline on the east side of the 


Kaibab. These magnificent gorges compare well in many respects with 
those which open into the Grand Canon. They have less depth, but are 
very nearly or even quite as wide. Those which are near the southern end 
of the plateau are in all respects the rivals of those which open into the 
great chasm, being of about the same depth and amplitude. But as we 
proceed northward, and away from the river, their depth suddenly dimin- 
ishes. The reason is obvious: they open upon the Marble Canon platform, 
which is about 3,000 feet above the river, and no mountain gorge can be 
excavated lower than, or even as low as, the level upon which it debouches. 
Both series, however, have been excavated nearly to the lowest possible 
depths, and their relative ages can be judged better by the widths than by 
the depths. Allowance must also be made for differences in the conditions 
which favor or retard this kind of erosion. All things considered, a com- 
parison of the two series of amphitheaters leads to the impression that 
the times required to excavate them were not very unequal. Much un- 
certainty of course must attach to such an inference, but it may be said that 
no reason appears at present for assigning a longer period to one series 
than to the other. This would lead us to assign to the monocline the same 
age as that of the Grand Canon— a conclusion identical with that already 
drawn. Although this argument, considered by itself, is so precarious that 
it could not alone justify so important a conclusion, yet when taken in con- 
nection with the whole mass of concordant facts it adds something to the 
volume of cumulative evidence upon which the conclusion is based. 


Triassic strata of the Paria Plateau. — Recession of cliffs and the effect of faulting upon its rate. — Causes 
of retardation in the recession. — Drainage system of the surface of the plateau. — Valley of the 
Paria River. — House Rock Valley. — The smaller drainage channels attributed to the moist climate 
of the glacial period. — The Marble Cation platform. — The Marble CaQon. — The Little Colorado 
and its relations to the region through which it runs. — The Echo Cliff monocline. 

The platform between the Echo Cliffs and the Kaibab possesses some 
features which merit a brief notice. It is divisible into two subordinate 
portions. Upon the north of it is an extension of the Triassic formation, 
which forms a terrace of considerably greater altitude than the remaining 
portion. The southern portion has for its surface the Carboniferous for- 
mation and contains the Marble Canon. The Triassic portion has received 
the name of the Paria Plateau, and the other has throughout this work 
been called the Marble Canon platform. 

The Paria Plateau presents some very instructive con.siderations in 
connection with the recession of cliffs. To appreciate them it is necessary 
to glance at the structural, topographic, and stratigi'aphic relations. An 
examination of the map will show that this plateau consists of a mass of 
Triassic beds which project far beyond the main line of the Vermilion Cliffs. 
At the village of Paria the main front of the Vermilion Cliffs terminates 
abruptly. The marginal line of the Triassic formation here changes its 
trend, running southward along the Kaibab wall for a distance of nearly 
30 miles; then swinging easterly in a large semicircle reaches the Colorado 
at the head of the Marble Canon. In this semicircle the Triassic Cliffs are 
the exact counterpart in all respects of the main Vermilion Cliffs west of 
Paria village; only the line of frontage has for some reason been left far 
in advance of the main line. It is to be remembered here that the Paria 
Plateau is separated from the Kaibab mass by the great East Kaibab mono- 



cline, which throws down the former (or more properly raises the latter) 
about 3,500 feet. The same relative downthrow affects in varying amount 
the Marble Canon platform. 

This southward projection of the Triassic teiTace illustrates in a very 
complete manner the effect of a fault upon the recession of cliffs when the 
fault runs in a direction perpendicular to the trend of the cliffs. The cliff 
extending away from the fault on the side of the downthrow has a dimin- 
ished rate of recession. On the side of the upthrow this rate of recession is 
increased. The two rates are of course considered relatively to each other. 
This fact is of repeated application in the Grand Canon district, and indeed 
throughout the Plateau country generally. Along the line of the terraces 
the great faults run perpendicularly to the trend of the escarpments, and 
the same effect is in each instance produced upon the rate of recession. A 
case quite homologous to the Paria Plateau is seen at the north end of the 
Sheavwits platform. Here the Hurricane fault throws up the Uinkaret 
side, and depresses the Sheavwits side. Upon the sunken side the Trias and 
Jura come in, occupying an area far in front of the main lines which termi- 
nate those formations upon the upthrow. Still again at the base of the 
Grand Wash fault, near the Colorado River, a patch of Trias is preserved 
under circumstances quite similar. 

The cause of this retarded rate of recession is not far to seek. It 
is merely a special case of the general law that erosion is more rapid 
{ceteris paribus) upon high levels than upon low ones. It is so for two 
reasons. In this region at least — and the same is true of most other regions 
— the rainfall increases with the altitude. So also does the factor of trans- 
portation. For the higher the locality tlie greater are the slopes of the 
streams which flow away from it, and the more rapidly do they remove the 
debris produced by weathering. But the more rapid removal of debris in 
turn quickens the rate of weathering and disintegration, for the exposure of 
the rocks becomes greater. This law is repeated over and over again, and 
its verity illustrated on every hand thi'oug'hout the Plateau Province. Those 
regions which have been elevated most have been most degraded by erosion; 
and inversely. 

The Paria Plateau also exhibits some interesting facts in relation to its 


drainage system. We have noted upon tlie Kaibab that the intricate net- 
work of surface-ravines everywhere conforms to the structural and mean 
topographical slopes. Whichever way the rocks dip, that way the ravines 
run. We also noted the very striking exception of those valleys, or con- 
tinuous, single line of valleys upon the summit, of which De Motte Park is 
the most conspicuous; and we explained the considerations which led to 
the inference that the parks are the vestiges of a very ancient river valley 
existing before the development of the present structural features of the 
plateau, while the other ravines are of very recent origin and posterior to 
that structural development. In the Paria Plateau we have an analogous 
state of affairs. Its surface is covered with a network of drainage chan- 
nels, often becoming very sharp, narrow canons, cutting deeply into its 
platform. Most of these conform to the structural slope of the plateau. 
But there are two valleys which form conspicuous exceptions. One of 
these is the Paria River, which heads in the great amphitheater of the same 
name in the terraces between Table Cliff and the Paunsdgunt. This river 
is everywhere independent of the structural slopes. In general it runs 
against them, but along the eastern limit of the Paria Plateau its course is 
parallel to the strike of the strata. Into this river the entire drainage of the 
plateau is gathered. Thus, while the Paria River is older than the structure 
and quite independent of it, the small surface channels of the plateau are 
quite dependent upon the structure, and no doubt are due to it. There is 
one more drainage channel of ancient date and independent of the structure. 
This is House Rock Valley, which lies along the base of the East Kaibab 
monocline. There is a very slight northeasterly dip to the whole platform, 
and against this dip both the Paria and House Rock valleys extend. The 
latter is very probably an ancient channel belonging to the same group 
of old tributaries of the Colorado as De Motte Park, the Toroweap, and 
Queantoweap. For a long stretch of geological time it has been dry and 
ceased to carry water; perhaps since the first establishment of an arid climate 
in Pliocene time. But although its course is now against the dip of the 
strata it is inferred that it was not so originally, and that the displacements 
are in part at least more recent than the epoch at which the river ceased to 
flow and to corrade its channel. 


In the case of the ravines of the Kaibab we saw some reason to con- 
jecture that they had their origin during the glacial period. So, too, with 
the surface channels of the Paria Plateau the same conjecture seems appli- 
cable. In this region the glacial period was not icy. No traces of glacial 
action are discernible in the country round about until we reach the loftier 
heights of the High Plateaus — 9,000 to 11,000 feet above the sea. But 
there is reason to believe that glacial time is here represented by a rainj^ 
period coming in between the arid climate of the Pliocene and the arid 
cHmate of the Quaternary. In truth the e^^dence of this is decisive. It 
is therefore natural for us to look for just such traces of its former pres- 
ence as this network of canons, or as the ravines of the Kaibab. For the 
effect of a long-continued arid chmate is to obliterate the smaller streams, 
to increase the areas, and diminish the number of subordinate watersheds. 
The return of a moist climate would revive the minor channels. But if 
the arid chmate had prevailed for a long period, and if during its sway the 
country had undergone differential vertical movements, the revived chan- 
nels would not necessarily occupy the precise places of their predecessors. 
That would depend upon how deepl}^ the original channels had been 
engraved, how extensive or nearly complete had been their obliteration, 
and how strongly marked had been the intervening vertical movements. 
On the Kaibab and Paria plateaus these factors appear to have had such 
values that the moist climate of the glacial period gave rise to networks of 
channels, which were quite independent of any which may have existed 
there in the Miocene. 

On the Paria Plateau not a solitary channel caiTies a living stream 
except the Paria River, which receives its supph* of Avater from the much 
loftier and moister region of the High Plateaus far to the northward. The 
extinct channels flow into it, and have directions which are very plainly 
determined by the general dip of the Paria table, which is towards the 

Wherever we turn in the Plateau Country the drainage is constantly 
bringing up many interesting problems and suggestions, and happily also 
supplies answers more or less complete to many questions. I do not know 
of any other region where this subject is so fruitful or so entertaining-. The 


GRAND CA.VO.V i>/sr/;/c7. n.. XX.W'I. 



relations of the drainage to the structure are so plain and so striking that 
the attention is always arrested by it and the facilities for putting the facts 
together in their normal sequence are unrivaled. 

The Marble Canon platform presents but few considerations, and those 
of the most patent kind. Like the Grand Canon platform, it consists of 
Carboniferous strata, with a considerable number of Permian remnants 
scattered over it. The same northward dip of 50 to 100 feet per mile is 
everywhere noticeable, and has the same relative importance, because of 
the great distance over which it prevails. The great feature of the platform 
is, of course, the Marble Canon. Mr. Holmes has given us a sort of bird's- 
eye view of this chasm, as seen from the lofty heights of the Kaibab. 
(Atlas Sheet No. XIX.) If the Grand Canon were not. hard by, and if its 
wholly incomparable magnitudes and grandeur did not belittle everj^thing 
with which we might think of comparing it, the Marble Canon might be 
the theme of some enthusiastic description. Though far inferior to the 
Grand Canon, it surpasses all others in the grandeur and power of those 
features which are the exclusive attributes of canon scenery. 

The Marble Canon begins at the Echo Cliffs. Here the river is almost 
in the open country, its banks being only 200 to 300 feet high. It has just 
emerged from the central mesas of the province through the Glen Canon. 
Turning sharply to the southwest, the river begins at once to burrow into 
the Carboniferous platform. The beds dip almost exactly up stream, so 
that as the river falls, with its onward progress the crests of the walls abso- 
lutely rise. In fact, the progressive deepening of the gorge is due far more 
to the rise of the strata than to the descent of the channel. The declivity 
of the channel is about seven and a half feet per mile, while the rise of the 
strata is nearly eight times as much; and yet it should be borne in mind 
that an inclination of 1° is about equivalent to a slope of 92 feet per mile, 
so that the dip of the beds is really less than 1° — an inclination so small 
that the unaided eye finds difficulty in recognizing it. But as its effect 
is cumulative it gives to the Marble Canon a depth of rather more than 
3,600 feet at its lower end— a depth which it is very difficult to realize. 

The canon is very simple in form, being a trough with walls, which are 
for the most part nearly vertical. The width is about double the depth, 


though this ratio varies somewhat. From what we have seen of the Grand 
Cauon we must conclude that the Marble Canon would be much more 
impressive if its width were five or six times the depth, instead of double. 
Nothing resembling the great cloister buttes and temples is seen in the 
Marble Canon. It is everywhere characterized by extreme simplicity. But 
the enormous expanse of vertical rock-face when seen from below is very 
impressive. Generally, in the deeper portions, the Red Wall limestone pre- 
sents those buttresses with vertical flutings and scorings which characterize 
the same beds in the inner gorge at the Toroweap. It all looks very sol- 
emn, very architectural, and very imposing. 

The only tributary which the Marble Canon receives is the Little Col- 
orado. There are some lateral amphitheaters, but they do not set back into 
the platform more than two or three miles from the river, and they cannot 
be properly called side chasms. But the Little Colorado is an important 
tributary. It heads far to the southeastward among the lavas of the Great 
Black Mesa of east-central Arizona. Its length is nearly 300 miles, and 
its watershed proportionately great ; yet it contributes to the Colorado 
only a very small brook of water in the dry season. In flood time, how- 
ever, the volume is large, for not only is the watershed extensive, but it is 
quite lofty on the whole, being from 7,000 to 8,000 feet over a large part 
of it. At such altitudes the rainfall in the wet season is considerable. This 
stream is everywhere independent of the structural slopes. Its lower courses 
are nearly parallel to the principal structure lines. In the vicinity of the 
Little Colorado the greatest structural feature is the Echo Cliff monocline, 
and this monocline is nearly parallel to the lower courses of the tributar}^. 
But far to the southeast the main branch of the stream crosses the flexiu-e 
transversely, entering the ascending slope of the monocline. It soon be- 
comes apparent that this tributary had its course laid out long before the 
existence of any of the great structural displacements, and that it is as old 
as the Colorado itself Its origin goes back to the earliest Tertiary time 
when the region first emerged from its lacustrine condition. No other sup- 
position seems capable of explaining the situation of the Little Colorado 
and the independence of structural slopes which it betrays everywhere 
along its course. 


It seems proper also to describe briefly the Echo Cliff monocline, since 
it is one of the most important in that great series of displacements which 
traverses the district from south to north. Everywhere it is a true mono- 
cline. It is known to extend more than a hundred miles south of the Colo- 
rado, and certainly reaches fifty miles north of the river. Upon the flank 
of the flexure the Permian Trias and Jura are upturned, forming lofty clifi's 
of very irregular aspect. Back of these the Cretaceous comes in as a series 
of steps. The irregular character of the cliffs is due to the considerable 
inclination of the strata, causing them to weather into sharp towers and 
needles of very irregular form, instead of the systematic and regular pro- 
files which are generated where these beds are horizontal. The total down- 
throw of the monocline varies greatly from place to place, but along those 
portions where it has been well observed the total displacement ranges from 
3,500 to 4,000 feet. Its age is Tertiary, and probably very nearly coeval 
with the East Kaibab monochne ; in other words, rather late Tertiary. 
The proof of Tertiary age is conclusive, since the flexure bends the Creta- 
ceous beds wherever it approaches them and its northward continuation in- 
volves the Eocene. 



Early Paleozoic couditions. — Silurian strata. — The great uuconformity at the head of the Grand Cafion 
and its significance. — The beginning of the Carhouiferous. — Inferences as to the condition of the 
region in CarhoniferouB time and during the Mesozoic. — Uniformity of conditions over great 
areas. — Diversity of character in the beds considered in respect to vertical range. — Shallow 
waters throughout the entire period of deposition. — The conditions in Cretaceous time. — Coal and 
carbonaceous shales. — Constant position of the surface of deposition. — Paradoxical nature of 
some of the problems presented. — Views concerning the mode of deposition in shallow waters of 
great area. — Relative distribution of land and water at the close of the Cretaceous. — Disturb- 
ances at the termination of the Mesozoic. — Unconformity of the Eocene and Cretaceous. — The 
advent of Eocene time. — Change of waters from brackish to fresh. — Great extent of the Eocene 
lakes and the causes of their creation. — The manner in which the lake of the Plateau Country 
was determined and its basin isolated. — Wide extension of the uplifting movement in the west. — 
Long persistence of the lakes. — Extent of Eocene deposits. — Origin of the plateau drainage 
system. — Stability of position in the principal drainage channels. — The great erosion daring late 
Eocene time aud during the Miocene. — Results accomplished at the close of the Miocene. — Gen- 
eral method of the jjrocess of denudation. — Origin of the present Grand Canon at the close of 
the Miocene. — Changes of climate from moist to arid. — Condition of the district at the beginning 
of the Pliocene. — Base level of erosion at that epoch. — Subsequent upheaval. — The development 
of the faults. — Coincidence of the faults and basaltic eruptions with the periods of upheaval. — 
Amount of uplift at this epoch. — Effect of the arid climate upon the topography. — The more 
recent upheaval and further development of faults. — Second period of base level. — The evolution 
of the Grand Cailon. — Rapid excavation of the inner gorge. — The glacial period. — Its eli'ects upon 
the diainage channels. 

"We may now attempt the somewhat diflficult task of extracting from 
the foregoing facts the history of the Grand Canon district. Primarily, my 
intention has been to reconstruct only its Tertiary historj^ But, as in 
human affairs the events of any limited period are linked with those which 
preceded them, so here the Tertiary history is rendered more intelligible by 
reviewing whatever knowledge we may possess of the events which pre- 
pared the way for it. Prior to Tertiary time the records are very obscure, 
and the conclusions we may draw concerning such remote events are very 
few and of the most general nature, yet not without value. 

Of the earlier Paleozoic conditions prevailing in the Plateau Province 
we know as yet but little. Already many perplexing problems have arisen 



which will require much study to solve, and their solutions promise to be 
extremely difficult. Within the boundaries of the province exposures of 
rocks older than the middle Carboniferous are very few and far between 
Those which have received attention hitherto are confined to the Uinta 
Mountains and the lowest deeps of the Grand Canon. Limiting our atten- 
tion to the latter region, we find beneath that system of strata which we 
liave thus far treated as Carboniferous a great variety of beds which range 
in age from the Archaean to the Devonian. Thi-oughout the Kaibab and 
Sheavwits divisions we find the so-called Carboniferous resting sometimes 
upon highly metamorphic schists of undoubted Archaean age, sometimes 
upon the eroded edges of strata which have yielded Cambro-Silurian and 
Silurian fossils. In a single instance in Kanab Canon Mr. Walcott found 
in a similar situation a very limited exposure of beds bearing fossils of 
Devonian age. In general, the rocks classed as Carboniferous rest upon 
the Archaean, while the older Paleozoic beds come in only at intervals. 
The contact is always unconformable and usually in a high degree. The 
horizontal Carboniferous beds appear to have been laid down upon the sur- 
face of a country which had beeji enormously eroded and afterwards sub- 
merged. In the Grand Canon this single fact is indicated to us throughout 
the length of a long, narrow, and tortuous cut thousands of feet in depth. 
But if we pass westward or southward, beyond the limits of the great Car- 
boniferous mass, we find a vast region where a similar state of facts is pre- 
sented. The Sierra country of central and western Arizona, of Nevada, 
and western Utah shows remnants of the Carboniferous resting with great 
unconformity upon older Paleozoic rocks and upon the Archaean. 

In the chapter on the Kaibab (Chap. IX, PI. XXXV) I have spoken 
of the great unconformity displayed at the head of the Grand Canon. 
Probably there is no instance to be found in the world where an uncon- 
formity is revealed upon such a magnificent scale, and certainly none amid 
such impressive surroundings. It is all the more suggestive because it is 
the type and symbol of a great fact which prevails over a region large 
enough for an empire. It assures us that in early Silurian time this region 
received enormous deposits of detritus which were faulted and flexed; that 
they were afterwards raised above the waters with the accompaniment of 


volcanic action; that they were ravaged by an erosion commensnrate with 
the grander examples of that process which are proven to have occurred in 
much later stages of the world's history; and that the region was again 

With the Carboniferous began that long era of deposition which extended 
without any real break into Tertiary time. The record of each period 
seems to be complete in the strata, and the deposition was apparently con- 
tinuous over the area of the Plateau Province taken as a whole, though 
here and there we may detect evidence of a brief interruption in some 
small areas. There are some general facts connected with this ^^I'ocess of 
accumulation of strata which merit special notice. 

(1.) The strata of each and every age were remarkably uniform over 
very large areas, and were deposited very nearly horizontally. In the in- 
terior spaces of the province we never find rapid increments or decrements 
of the strata. They do indeed vary in thickness, but they vary in the most 
gradual manner. Around the old shore lines, however, which form the 
present borders of the Plateau Country, we find the volumes of the strata 
much larger than elsewhere. But as we depart from them towards the 
heart of the province, we observe, in the course of two or three leagues, a 
considerable diminution in their thickness, and thenceforward the attenua- 
tion is so slow that we discover it only by comparing correlative sections 
many leagues apart. Very analogous is the constancy of lithological char- 
acters. As we trace the individual beds from place to place, we find their 
composition to be as persistent as their thickness. The sandstone of a given 
horizon is always and everywhere a sandstone, the limestone a limestone, 
the shale a shale. Even the minuter structure of the beds is similarly main- 
tained, and features which are almost abnormal are equally constant. The 
Jurassic and Triassic sandstones are everywhere cross-bedded after their 
own marvelous fashion. The singular cherty limestones at the summit of 
the Carboniferous are quite ahke on the brink of the Grand Canon, at the 
junction of the Grand and Green rivers, and in the borders of the great 
Black Mesa at the south. The curious Shinarump conglomerate is the same 
in Pine Valley Mountains, in the terrace at Kanab, at the base of the Echo 
Chffs, and in the Land of the Standing Rocks. The lower Triassic shales 


and upper Permian shales, with their gorgeous belts of richest colors and 
beautiful ripple-marks, and with their silicified forests, have hardly varied a 
band or a tint from the brink of the Sheavwits to the pagoda-buttes of 
western Colorado. Still there are exceptions. The great Jurassic white 
sandstone fades out from northwest to southeast, and we are in doubt, at 
present, whether it failed of deposition or is blended with the Trias. Other 
members might be mentioned which undergo slow changes from place to 
place. But such changes are always very gradual. Nowhere have we 
found thus far what may be called local deposits, or such as are restricted to 
a narrow belt or contracted area. 

All of these strata seem to have been deposited horizontally. Even 
the base of the Carboniferous has a contact with unconformable rocks 
beneath, which was but slightly roughened by hills and ridges. In the 
Kaibab division of the Grand Canon, while the great bod}^ of Carbonifer- 
ous strata was horizontal, we may observe near the brink of the inner gorge 
a few bosses of Silurian strata rising higher than the hard quartzitic sand- 
stone which forms the base of the Carboniferous. These are Paleozoic 
hills, which were buried by the growing mass of sediment But they are of 
insignificant mass, rarely exceeding two or three hundred feet in height, and 
do not appear to have ruffled the parallelism of the sandstones and lime- 
stones of the massive Red Wall group above them. 

(2.) Another consideration is as follows: as we pass vertically from 
one formation to another in the geological series, we observe the same 
diversity of lithological characters as is found in other regions. The lime- 
stones occur chiefly in the lower Carboniferous, and in very great 
force. At the summit of the Carboniferous also are 70;) to 800 feet of cal- 
careous strata. But in the Mesozoic system limestones are rare, and con- 
stitute but a very small portion of the volume. By far the greater part of 
the entire stratigraphic column is sandstone, and the various members of 
this class show great diversity of texture and composition. Some are 
excessively hard adamantine quartzites, very many are common sandstones 
in massy beds. By small gradations these pass into sandy shales, contain- 
ing more or less argillite, and such shales form a large proportion of the 

bulk of the Permian and Trias. These shales in turn pass into marly beds, 
14 G c 


which have vast thickness in the Cretaceous and form a considerable por- 
tion of the Eocene. Beds of gypsum are also frequent, forming thin separ- 
ating layers in the slialy divisions, and sulphate of lime is a very important 
ingi'edient of the arenaceous strata from the base of the Carboniferous to 
the summit of the Jurassic. Besides its occurrence in distinct bands of 
nearly pure gypsum, it plays the part of a cement in the sand rock, and is 
also richly disseminated in the form of selenite in the sandy shales. On the 
other hand, there is a marked absence of such rocks as clay-slate. The slaty 
structure and composition has not hitherto been observed anywhere, so far 
as I know, and though argillaceous rocks are very voluminous in the Cre- 
taceous they are charged with calcareous matter, and are very distinct from 
the ordinary clay-slates of the Appalachians. 

Thus it will be noted that while the strata are remarkably homogeneous 
in their horizontal extensions, they are very heterogeneous in vertical 
range And this heterogeneity is found not only in the chemical constitu- 
ents, but also in the texture and in the mechanical properties of hardness, 
compactness, and solubility. This consideration is an important one, since 
upon it dej^ends the result which is obtained by the attack of the eroding- 
elements — the achitecture of the cliffs and profiles. 

(3.) Another general fact of importance is, that during the Mesozoic 
ages the surface of deposition was maintained very nearly at sea-level 
throughout the entire province. With regard to the Carboniferous strata it 
does not yet appear that the same was true. From such meager knowledge 
as we possess, there may be some reason for the opinion that the Carbonifer- 
ous sea had a considerably greater depth during the earlier and middle 
portions of that age than during the later portion. The lower Carbonif- 
erous strata (Red Wall group) consist chiefly of limestones, and the over- 
Ijnng lower Aubi'ey group corresponding to the coal measures is a series of 
sandstones of exceedingly fine texture and often gjpsiferous. There is a 
notable absence in these beds of signs of very shallow water, such as ripple 
marks, cross-bedding, coarse clastic matei'ial, and littoral remains, organic 
or otherwise. The fauna, as usual, is an unsafe guide, and must be regarded 
as non-committal. On the other hand, there is no reason to suppose that 
the depth was at all profound. It is rather by contrasting the total absence 


of the sigus of very shallow water with the presence of decisive signs of 
it in the Mesozoic and Permian, that we are drawn to the inference of some- 
what greater marine depths in the early and middle Carboniferous. 

In the upper Aubrey series we come upon some indications of shallow 
water, and from the base of the Permian upwards these are ever present. 
In the Permian, Trias, and Jura we find instances of those pecuhar uncon- 
formities by erosion without any unconformity of dip in the beds. Perhaps 
the most widely spread occurrence of this kind is the contact of the sum- 
mit of the Permian with the Shinarump conglomerate which forms the base 
of the Trias. Wherever this horizon is exposed this unconformity is gener- 
ally manifest. Between the base of the Permian and the summit of the 
Carboniferous a similar relation has been observed in numerous localities, 
and there is a similar instance in the lower Trias. It has also been detected 
between the Trias and Jura, and between the Jura and Cretaceous. We 
are tempted to ask here, whether such unconformities, without the shs-htest 
trace of permanent displacement in the strata, may not have been due to 
oscillations in the regional sea-level rather than to movements of the 

One of the more striking features of the lower Trias is the occurrence 
of a vast abundance of silicified wood. It is not uncommon to find large 
tree trunks imbedded in these shales in good preservation. Thej are also 
found in a fragmental condition among the pebbles of the Shinarump con- 
glomerate. These petrifactions are found over a wide extent of country 
from the Sheavwits Plateau along the front of the Vermilion Cliifs to the 
Paria, and again far to the northward at the base of Thousand Lake 
Mountain in the district of the High Plateaus. 

These occurrences and others, which will soon be specified, point de- 
cisively to the inference that during the great era of accumulation, lasting 
from the closing stages of the Carboniferous to the Eocene, the surface of 
deposition never varied far from sea-level, and now and then the waters 
retreated from it, but only for very brief periods. On the whole the depo- 
sition proceeded almost continuously. It necessarily follows that in the 
long run the underlying beds sank deeper and deeper as the newer ones 
were piled upon them. This fact is but a repetition of what is found in 
other regions where the deposition has been very heavy. The strata sub- 


sided as rapidly as they were formed. It was true of the Appalachians, of 
the Pacific coast, of western and central Europe, and I think the same is 
true of all the areas of great deposition throughout the West. 

When we reach the Cretaceous age we find that a little more light may 
be thrown upon the physical condition of the province, though much less 
than might be wished. So large are the areas where this series is the sur- 
face of the country, and so readily does the mind restore it to the places 
from which it has been denuded, that we feel almost as if we saw this great 
formation in its entirety. Wherever we turn in the Plateau Province the 
Cretaceous tells us the same story. All over its extent it is a lignitic and 
coal-bearing formation. We find coal or carbonaceous shales from the base 
of the series to the summit. Very abundant also are the remains of land 
plants in recognizable fossils, and these fossils occur not only in the carbon- 
aceous layers but in the sand-rock and marls as mere casts or impressions 
of wood and leaves. Intercalating with these are many calcareous layers 
which yield marine mollusca in the lower and middle Cretaceous, and brack- 
ish water mollusca in the upper Cretaceous In a word, the parallelism, 
so far as physical and organic conditions are concerned, between the Creta- 
ceous of the Plateau Country and the Carboniferous coal measures of En- 
gland, Pennsylvania, and Nova Scotia, seems perfect. What the CarbcJn- 
iferous age was to the Appalachian region, such was the Cretaceous age to 
the great mountain region of the West. 

A careful scrutin)^ of the facts presented by the Cretaceous strata of 
the Plateau Country brings up before us some very curious and perplexing 
problems. No one would hesitate to say that dui'ing the accumulation of 
these strata the surface of deposition must have been very nearly at mean 
sea-level. Yet the Cretaceous system varies from 3,500 to 8,000 feet in 
thickness in diflPerent parts of the province. The continuous ai'ea which 
they covered south of the Uintas surely exceeds 100,000 square miles, in 
which not a single mountain chain, not a hill, not even a perceptible undu- 
lation of the strata is known to have then existed.* It seems at first very 

* There are some considerable areas of whicli we have but little knowledge, but we know the 
greater part of the province well enough to be sure that within the limits of observation the inference 
of the test holds rigorously. Very probably it holds good throughout the province. 





difficult to understand how so vast a mass of strata could have accumulated 
in such shallow waters and over so wide an area. And the difficulty be- 
comes considerably greater when we recall the fact that coal was also 
accumulated at different horizons throughout the entire province If the 
sea were everywhere so shallow and if notable portions of its area were 
raised above the surface sufficiently to permit the growth of land vegeta- 
tion, it would seem difficult to account for the transportation and diffusion 
of so large a mass of sedimentary materials over the entire exjjanse. Pos- 
sibly some of the difficulties will be lightened by the following suggestions 
Although to the eye the strata show no marked inclinations excepting 
such as we know have been produced in later periods, still there may have 
been, and probably were, very feeble slopes too small to be detected by the 
eye, and these feeble slopes if continued for any great distance would carry 
the surface down hundreds of feet. A slope of one degree means a differ- 
ence of level of a thousand feet in less than eleven miles. Hence there is 
no difficulty in imagining that while some tracts were exposed just above 
the water level, there were still larger ones where there may have been more 
than a hundred fathoms of water. But it should seem that shallow water, 
provided the shallowness be not very extreme, would tend to a wider and 
more uniform distribution of sediments than waters which run off into great 
depths. The currents having less depth of cross-section would move more 
rapidly and constantly, while currents moving outward into deeper water lose 
velocity and transporting power. So far, then, is the shallowness of the 
Plateau sea from being an obstacle to our comprehension of the state of 
facts which the region presents, that it may be the key to the mystery. One 
of the most striking facts to be explained is the persistency of lithological 
characters over large areas and the very slight and gradual variations in the 
masses of strata from place to place. If these sediments had been brought 
down by rivers to a shore from which the waters steadily and rather rapidly 
deepened seawards, we might have looked for enormous masses of littoral 
beds which rapidly thinned out as they receded from the shores ; for the 
moving currents might be expected to lose themselves in the deepening 
water. But with shallow waters, whatsoever currents might be generated — 
whether from tides, from large rivers, from oceanic drift, or from prevailing 


winds — would persist as far as the depths remained shallow. Some such 
explanation as this, if it be tenable, would greatly assist us in explaining 
the wide diffusion of cross-bedding displayed in the Jura- Trias. It is 
generally accepted as an explanation for ripple marks that they are formed 
in shallow and moving water, and ripple marks are almost as abundant here 
as cross-bedding. 

It would be extremely interesting to know what was the relative distri- 
bution of land and water over the western part of our continent in the 
closing periods of the Cretaceous. In a general way we know that the 
greater portion of the West was submerged. "We also know that consider- 
able land areas existed there. Sometimes we can point with confidence to 
a particular area and assert that it was land in Cretaceous time, but as a 
rule we are in doubt about the land areas. The largest piece of terra firma 
which is known was the Great Basin area, and even here we are unable to 
fix more than a small part of its shore line. We are reasonably confident 
that some and perhaps most of the great mountain platforms of the eastern 
ranges were above the waters with submerged valleys between them. We 
also know, and the fact is a momentous one, that neai-ly the whole of the 
vast region of the West coiTesponded in its physical condition to what we 
have inferred for the Cretaceous age of the Plateau Country. But detailed 
knowledge of the geography of the land areas in that age is exceedingly 
meager. Perhaps, however, we may make some very general statements 
which are not without value. 

We cannot as yet affirm confidently that the Cretaceous ocean stretched 
from the lower Mississippi to the Pacific Ocean; but the facts now known 
indicate that if the two oceans were sepai-ated in that age the separation 
was only by a very narrow land area. We can travel from the Mississippi 
to the Pacific, between the thirty-fourth and thirty-seventh parallels, without 
being at any time more than fifty miles distant from some known mass of 
Cretaceous beds. If some gaps in existing knowledge could be filled up, 
we might be able to close up the vacant spaces in the disti-ibution of the 
Cretaceous, and say that strata of that age once stretched continuously 
between the termini just mentioned. Indeed the only gap of importance 
is in the extreme southern part of Nevada and southern California. Every 


indication we now have raises a presumption in favor of this complete con- 
nection; but it is unnecessary to speculate when the facts can be learned 
by observation. 

North and south of this unexplored locality, where it is supposed that 
an arm of the Cretaceous sea reached out to join the Pacific, there lay land 
areas of considerable extent. The northern was the old mainland of the 
Great Basin; the southern was the Arizona land, of which such frequent 
mention has been made in this work. The northern area was much larger 
than the southern. It still remains possible that the two were one continu- 
ous area joined by an isthmus, or that the Arizona mass was a long Malacca- 
like peninsula projecting southeastward from the former. 

At the close of the Cretaceous important vertical movements were 
inaugurated, which finally revolutionized the physical condition of the 
region. Around the borders of the Plateau Province some important flex- 
ures were generated at this epoch, and portions were uplifted sufficiently to 
undergo a large amount of denudation. Perhaps the most striking instance 
of this is the one described in the work on the High Plateaus extending 
from the eastern and southei-n flanks of the Aquarius southward to the 
Colorado. This area consists of Jura-Trias strata, from which the Creta- 
ceous had been eroded before the deposition of the Tertiary. Beneath the 
lava-cap of the Aquarius the lower Eocene may be observed resting upon 
the Jurassic sandstone, and a little further westward it lies across the 
basset edges of the Cretaceous. Southeastward from the Aquarius and 
along the course of the Escalante River the same relation is inferred 
to have existed, but the great erosion has swept everything bare down to 
the Jura-Trias, and the evidence of the extension of the Eocene here is 
mainly indirect. But the two monoclines are in full view, between which the 
Escalante platform was hoisted, and their age is unquestionably pre-Tertiary 
and post-Cretaceous. These relations are repeated in many other localities, 
and they indicate to us very decidedly that the Cretaceous closed amid im- 
portant disturbances. 

Still the deposition of strata was not yet ended. It went forward with 
seemingly undiminished rapidity, but under circumstances somewhat differ- 
ent from those hitherto prevailing. Soon after the advent of the Eocene 


the waters became fresh, and remained so until they disappeared altogether. 
This change was not limited to the Plateau Country, but appears to have 
been general over the greater part of the western mountain region. In 
trutli, I know of no more impressive and surprising fact in western geology 
than the well-attested observation that most of that area has been covered 
by fresh-water lakes, and that the passage from the marine to the terres- 
trial condition seems to have been through an intermediate lacustrine con- 
dition. The marvel is not in the fact that here and there we find the ves- 
tiges of a great lake, but that we find those vestiges everywhere. The 
whole region, with the exception of the mountain platforms and pre-exist- 
ing mainlands, has passed through this lacustrine stage. 

When we take account of the peculiar circumstances our surprise may 
diminish in some measure, and the facts thus described may seem natural 
enough. The uplifting of the western region was a movement which acted 
unequally over the continent. Some portions were raised more than others. 
It is also to be considered that some of the inequalities of the surface ex- 
isted before this general uplifting began. The result of this inequality must 
necessarily have been the production of depressed basins and intervening 
watersheds. Whether these basins would be completely closed, so as to 
form great lakes, or whether they should have drainage freely to the ocean, 
would depend of course upon the relations of the new axes of displacement 
to the older topography. If the new displacements merely accent and in- 
crease the older features, we should hardly look for the foi'mation of lake 
basins. But if the new displacements are in any marked degree independ- 
ent of the old ones, and if their axes lie transverse or oblique to the older 
axes, the formation of lake-basins in a newly emerging country is inevita- 
ble ; and if the area affected be very extensive the chances are that the 
basins will be either very large or very numerous — in any event covering 
the greater part of the area. Without speculating as to the cause, it may 
be laid down as a general fact that the broader displacements of the West 
which began in early Tertiary time are quite independent of the older 
topographies, and the production of lake-basins by the new emergence 
seems a necessary consequence. 

It is apparent in any event that the Plateau Country formed one con- 


tinuous lake south of the Uinta Mountains. The vertical movements which 
followed the close of Cretaceous time shut it off from access to the sea. If 
we are at liberty to go on as we have done and to draw broad inferences 
from the drainage channels concerning the mode of evolution, we can very 
quickly frame a theory of the distribution of those vertical movements^ 
Thus we know that during Cretaceous time the Plateau area was wide open 
to the ocean towards the southeast, or towards the Gulf of Mexico. For 
the Cretaceous system stretches from the heart of the province clear across 
New Mexico and into Texas, with no other interruptions than some short 
mountain ranges, (themselves largely composed of Cretaceous strata), and 
such gaps as have very plainly been produced by Tertiary erosion. Let 
us assume that at the beginning of the Eocene, or very soon thereafter, the 
western and northwestern part of New Mexico was uplifted slightly more 
than regions either east or west of it ; the axis of elevation trending nearly 
north and south. The effect would have been to make an almost, if not 
completely, closed basin of the Plateau Country. 

With this hypothesis we ai-e able to frame a very simple and intelligi- 
ble account of the manner in which the Plateau Province finally was isolated 
in Eocene time from the ocean. In truth, three-fourths or more of its bound- 
ary had been marked out long before, perhaps as far back as the begin- 
ning of the Trias ; and in the following way. On the northwest lay the 
Mesozoic mainland, now forming the Great Basin area. In some form or 
other the Wasatch was then in existence as a mountain range. So, also, 
the Uinta chain on the north of the province then existed, but probably did 
not project so far eastward as at present, and left a gap in the boundary 
along the course of the Green River. On the northeastern side of the basin 
some of the great Park ranges of Colorado were standing, though the 
sea may have washed their bases. But to the southeast the area was wide 
open to the Cretaceous ocean. On the southwest and south lay the Arizona 
mainland so often spoken of in this work. Whether this mainland was con- 
tinuous with the Great Basin mainland we do not know as yet, nor is it 
material just here. If, now, the first effort of the elevating force which has 
raised the continent had acted with more effect upon the eastern than upon 
the western side of the basin, the result would have been to make this basin 


a land-locked area like the Euxiiie. Its outlet would necessarily have been 
along the lower courses of the Colorado to the Gulf of CaUfornia, or, per- 
haps, straight westward to the Pacific. 

Having thus obtained a consistent view of the manner in which the 
great Eocene lake of the Plateau Province may have originated, it now 
remains to follow out such changes as are indicated in its subsequent his- 
tory. It should seem that the passage from the brackish water to the fresh 
water condition was quite sudden, and as the same is true of widely ex- 
tended areas outside of this region, we are apparently obliged to assume that 
the movement of which this was a result affected the entire western portion 
of the continent, and that it was one of elevation. A considerable number 
of large lakes being formed, the next process was the desiccation of these 
lakes and the evolution of river systems. So long as the region occupied a 
low altitude this process, we may infer, would be very protracted. Before a 
large lake can be drained its outlet must be cut down. But several causes in 
the present instance would combine to render this action very slow and 
feeble. The elevation being small, the declivity and consequent corrasive 
power at the outlet must be correspondingly small. Moreover, the waters 
issuing from a large lake contain little or no sediment ; and sediments — 
sand, grit, &c. — are the tools with which rivers chiefly work in corrading 
their beds. Corrasion by clear water is an exceedingly slow process. 

It is not surprising, therefore, to find that the lakes produced by the 
first action of the elevating forces persisted for a very long time. This per- 
sistence is a general feature of the Eocene lakes of the West. The Plateau 
lake seems to have been one of the largest and most enduring, for it did 
not wholly vanish until the close of the Eocene. The volume of sediment 
accumulated upon its bottom was very large, ranging from 1,'200 to more 
than 5,000 feet in thickness, and these deposits represent Eocene time ex- 
clusively. Here we are confronted by the same paradoxes as those we en- 
countered in viewing the Cretaceous condition of the region : a tract which 
is rising yet sinking ; a basin which is shallow, which receives great thick- 
ness of deposits, and yet is never full. 

At length we detect evidence of the gradual cessation of deposit and 
of the progressive upheaval of the country. In the chapter which treats 


of the terraces we noted the fact that in the southern portion of the lake 
basin only the lower Eocene was deposited, while in the northern portion 
around the Uintas the whole Eocene formation is present. Whence we 
infer that the final desiccation of the lake began in its southern or south- 
western portions, and that the lake shrank away very slowly towards the 
north, finally disappearing at the base of the Uintas at the close of Eocene 

We must also infer that upon the floor of this basin, as it emerged, a 
drainage system was laid out. Such a drainage system would necessarily 
conform to the slopes of the country then existing. Taking the supposition 
already made, that the uplift was somewhat greater upon the eastern than 
upon the western side of the province, the configuration of the principal 
drainage channels would be very much like that now existing. The trunk 
channel would flow southwestward and westward, while the tributaries 
would enter it on either hand very much as the larger and older tributaries 
now do. The affluents on the south side are the San Juan, the Little Colo- 
rado, and Cataract Creek, which seem to be due to just such an original 
surface. On the north side of the Colorado the arrangement of the tribu- 
taries also seems to conform to the assumption. On this side the later 
movements of the strata have been such that the prevailing courses of the 
streams are almost always against the dips. But when we restore these 
displacements and deduce from them as nearly as we may the original 
conformation of the country, the positions of the tributaries at once become 
natural and easy of explanation. 

The argument here adopted concerning the origin of the drainage sys- 
tem affords Httle scope for discussion. Rivers originated somehow. It 
seems almost a truism to say that they originated with the land itself, and 
that their courses were, in the first instance, determined by the slopes of 
the newly emerged land surface. No doubt there are many causes which 
may have changed the courses of rivers, and in the subsequent changes of 
position the original arrangement may have been lost and left no intelligible 
trace. On the other hand, there are certain conditions under which we may 
look for the highest degree of stability in the positions of drainage chan- 
nels, and when we find such conditions to have prevailed continuously the 


question of origin becomes at once important, for it indicates to us an initial 
configuration of the surface, which must be taken account of and never 
violated in all subsequent discussion. All inferences or speculations con- 
cerning later displacements and many other groups of facts must be kept 
in strict subordination to it. 

The Plateau Cou.ntry is one in which the conditions have been remark- 
ably favorable to the stability of the larger drainage channels. On the 
other hand, it has been singularly unfavorable to the stability of smaller or 
local drainage channels. The Colorado and its larger tributaries — those 
tributaries which head in the highlands around the border of the province — 
exhibit everywhere incontestible evidence that they are flowing to-day 
just where they flowed in Eocene time. But the smaller tributaries are 
wanting altogether in some large tracts, and where they do exist they 
usually disclose the fact that they are of very recent origin and have been 
determined by surface conditions of recent establishment. In the remainder 
of this discussion these facts assume great importance. 

"With the final desiccation of the Grand Canon district began the great 
erosion, which has never ceased to operate down to the present time. Con- 
cerning the details of that process we know but little, and we can only 
guess at its general character during the earlier stag'es. Erosion is here 
associated with a large amount of uplifting, and we may conjecture that as 
the uplifting went on the inequalities produced by erosion became greater 
and greater, the valleys grew deeper, and the intervening mesas stood in 
higher relief. This is merely an application of the general law that the 
higher the country the more deeply is it engraved by erosion and the 
greater are its sculptured reliefs. Much, however, must depend upon 
climate. But the Eocene climate of the West, so far as it is indicated by 
the strata and organic remains of that age, was moist and subtropical, and 
presumably the climate of the Grand Canon district was similar. 

During the latter part of Eocene time the degrading forces no doubt 
made great progress in destroying and removing the Mesozoic deposits, 
which I have shown originally covered the region. We cannot, however, 
in this district find any epoch separating the later Eocene from the Miocene. 
To all intents and purposes they formed here a single age. From the 


time when the great erosion was begun until it reached a certain stage (to 
be spoken of speedily) not a single detail can be pointed to beyond the 
principal facts x)f elevation and erosion. We are, so to speak, passing a 
long interval of time in the dark. We must, therefore, stride at once from 
the middle Eocene to an epoch which may be provisionally fixed at the 
close of the Miocene. From this epoch looking backward the total change 
wrought upon the region up to that time breaks into view. But we know 
only the beginning and the end. The intermediate stages are discerned 
only by the imagination. Yet I am tempted here to view this period in a 
way which may be in some measure speculative, though not wholly so. 
Some deductions may be made from established pi'inciples governing 
erosion which may fairly claim to be something more than mere specula- 

At the close of the Miocene, or thereabout, the greater part of the 
denudation of the Mesozoic should have been accomplished, and it is worth 
while to inquire in what manner this work may have been done. In the 
fourth chapter of this book I have spoken of the general fact that the 
attack of erosion is directed chiefly against the edges of the strata and the 
steeper slopes, and operates but feebly upon flat surfaces. The entering 
cuts are made by the cdrrading streams. The whole region had, during 
the long interval of Eocene and Miocene time, undergone a great amount 
of uplifting, and this progressive movement itself constitutes a condition 
highly favorable to corrasion; for the higher the country rises the greater 
become the declivities of the streams, and of those factors which determine 
a stream to corrade the most potent by far is declivity. While the coun- 
try rises, therefore, the sti'eams are making the reliefs greater — are creating 
larger surfaces of edgewise exposure and longer and steeper slopes. Thus, 
every advantage is given the agents of erosion. 

The area thus exposed to rapid denudation was a very large one, and 
the corrasion of streams apparently went on over its entire expanse, without 
any very great local variations of amount, except perhaps near the borders 
of the watershed. While the normal method of decay is expressed in the 
recession of clifis, we must not suppose that single and comparatively 
straight lines of clifis stretched across the whole region and slowly wasted 


backwards. We should rather conceive of the platforms as being cut by a 
labyrinth of drainage channels, ramifying over their entire expanse, and 
as being attacked within and without, and all around — as a great conflagra- 
tion spreads through every square, street, and alley of a city. A state of 
affairs quite similar to that suggested here seems to prevail at the present 
time in the interior spaces of the Plateau Province. The drainage basins 
of the Escalante River, of the San Juan, and indeed of that entire part of 
the Colorado which reaches from the junction of the Grand and Green to 
the head of Marble Canon, are wonderfully dissected by countless canons, 
which I am confident were in existence at this very epoch, though they 
have since been greatly deepened and otherwise modified. 

It may also be of interest to inquire whether it is probable that canons, 
architectural cliffs, buttes, and mesas existed in the Miocene, similar to 
those now occurring. The answer to this must be largely conjectural, but 
it seems to me that the probabilities are against such a topography. The 
present features of the region are no doubt favored greatly by an arid cli- 
mate. Still we know that canons and cHflPs may be generated in moist 
climates. But under a moist climate, other circumstances and conditions 
must be of a very exceptional nature to produce such features, and even if 
produced, they are evanescent. An arid climate not only tends to produce, 
but also tends to maintain them. Under a moist climate the tendency is 
to reduce them to normal forms. Further than this it seems useless to 

The first indications of specialized events are associated with the 
beginning of the present Grand Canon.* About the time that the river 
began to cut into the Carboniferous strata, some important physical changes 
in the condition of the region took place, which have left their imprints 
upon the topography. The climate appears to have changed from moist to 
arid. In preceding chapters we have noted particular instances where this 
change manifests itself in the drying up of lateral streams. Perhaps the 

* I use the term "present Graud Canon" to designate the state of the canon at the present time 
in the Carboniferous, in contradistiuction to the more ancient state of the valley. All through this 
work the idea is kept in view that this valley in earlier times lay within Mesozoic strata, which have 
been swept away from the vicinity of the river, and now appear only in the terraces, fifty miles or more 
to the northward. 


most instructive one is De Motte Park, on the Kaibab. A considerable 
number of others are still distinguishable. These indicate that as the Colo- 
rado began to sink into the Carboniferous strata, some cause di'ied up their 
very fountains, and they ceased to flow. No explanation seems at all 
adequate except the advent of an arid climate. If, then, we could fix the 
period at which this change of climate occurred, we should have strong 
presumptive reasons for selecting the same period as the one in which the 
present Grand Canon originated. 

We know that the Miocene climate of the West was moist and sub- 
tropical. This is indicated by the great extent of fresh-water lakes in some 
portions of the West, their abundant vegetable remains, and the exuberance 
of land life But the remnants of Pliocene time are usually of a different 
character. In the Great Basin we have many proofs of the arid character 
of that age, and it is equally evident throl^ghout the Plateau Country that 
the Pliocene climate was in the main very much like the present. We can- 
not, it is true, correlate with precision any definite boundary between Mio- 
cene and Pliocene; but, with no unreasonable latitude, I think we may 
still say that the Miocene climate of the Plateaus was a moist climate, while 
the Pliocene was arid, and that the transition from one climate to the other 
occurred near the close of the former age or near the beginning of the latter. 

At the epoch when the cutting of the present Grand Canon began, no 
doubt the district at large presented a very diffei'ent aspect from the mod- 
ern one. While the greater part of the denudation of the Mesozoic had 
been accomplished, there were some important remnants still left which 
have been nearly or quite demolished in still more recent times. The 
basalts of the Uinkaret and Sheavwits have preserved some extensive Per- 
mian outliers, and even these must have shrunken greatly by the waste of 
erosion during the long period occupied in the excavation of the Grand 
Canon. Although the basalts which cap Mounts Logan and Trumbull are 
certainly very ancient, and are older than the faults — or at least older than 
a great part of the faulting movements — there is no assurance that they are 
as old as the origin of the present canon. Still I do not doubt that they go 
back nearly as far, and they are certainly much more ancient than the inner 
gorge at the Toroweap. At the time of their outpour large masses of Per- 


mian strata overspread the region. These are not limited to the few rem- 
nants desci'ibed on the Uinkaret, but we find the summit of the Permian 
similarly protected by basalt in many widely separated localities. Thus 
the Eed Butte south of the Kaibab division of the canon has a basaltic cap 
which seems to be about as ancient as that of Logan. In the San Fran- 
cisco Mountains may be found remnants of the same formation protected 
by lavas, though our knowledge is not yet sufficient to give us any opinion 
as to how great an antiquity should be assigned to those eruptions. No 
doubt they are Tertiary, but whether Miocene or Pliocene is unknown. In 
the valley of the Little Colorado some Permian masses have been similarly 
protected by basalt and still reveal nearly or quite the entire series. The 
Sheavwits Plateau contains these remnants with basaltic coverings more 
abundantly and upon a larger scale than any other plateau. Thus there is 
a general accord of testimony that at the period of the older basaltic erup- 
tions very lai-ge bodies of Permian strata lay upon the Carboniferous plat- 
form. In truth, it seems as if the summit of the Permian then constituted 
the surface of the country, just as the summit of the Carboniferous does now. 
The fact that the older basalts wherever found rest upon the same geological 
horizon, viz, the summit of the Permian, suggests to us the further inference 
that the region near the river was then flat and destitute of deep canons and 
valleys, such as now exist there, and, therefore, destitute of great hills, buttes, 
or mesas. The meaning of this is a base -level of erosion. The rivers could 
not corrade, because they had reached for the time being their limiting depth 
in the strata. The work of erosion would then be confined to leveling the 
sculptural inequalities without the power to produce new ones or to augment 
the relief of old ones.* This, it is true, looks at first like drawing a very 
broad and rather remote inference from a very slender basis, and would not 
be justified at all if it were not in general harmony with a wide range of 
facts. Many facts take form and coherence around it which would other- 
wise seem mysterious. Let us illustrate. 

The condition of base-level is one in which the rivers of a region can- 
not corrade. As a general rule it arises from the rivers having cut down so 
low that their transporting power is fully occupied, even to repletion. This, in 

•For a brief exposition of the general idea of a base-level see the concluding part of Chapter IV. 


turn, involves the correlative fact that no elevating force has acted upon the 
reo-ion for a long period of time.* For the most part base-levels are preva- 
lent during a cessation of the uplifting force. The recurrence of upheaval 
terminates the condition of base-level. The decHvities of the streams are 
increased, their energy augmented, and their corrasive power renewed. 
New features are then carved out of the topography, or older ones are em- 
bossed in higher reUef A period of upheaval, then, is one in which the 
sculptural features of the land are generated and increased ; a period of 
quiescence or cessation of vertical movement is one in which these features 
are obliterated.! Now, in trying to form some conception of the process by 
which the great denudation of the Mesozoic was accomplished, we may 
suppose that the uplifting of the region went on (1) either at a constant or 
a shghtly varying rate, or (2) through alternating periods of activity and 
quiescence. The results would be widely contrasted in the two cases. The 
former would give us an exceedingly rough and hilly country at all periods 
of the erosion ; the latter would give us just such a country as we see at 
present. The inequalities produced during a period of upheaval would be 
smoothed off during the period of repose. As a matter of fact we may be 
confident that the upheaval in its later stages has been of the paroxysmal 
character. Of this the proofs are abundant. 

We may then conjecture the reason for the somewhat remarkable fact 
spoken of in Chapter VI, that the same stratum or geological horizon is 
almost everywhere the surface of the interior platform of the Grand Canon 
district. Before the last upheaval we may conceive of the region occupying 
the situation of a base-level in which the inequalities which may have existed 
were obliterated. We shall see more of this subject of base-level hereafter. 

*Other causes might be suggested, but this no doubt is the predominant one. 
t If it be suggested that a long time might have to elapse after the cessation of upheaval before 
the river would find its base level, I reply to the contrary. Corrasion at auy level notably above base 
level is a very swift process. Our concrete ideas of corrasion are apt to be drawn solely from ordinary 
rivers, which are almost always close down to base level. But any marked increase in the declivity of 
a laro-e stream would {ceteris paribus) enormously accelerate the rate of corrasion. After the periodic 
uplifts of the Graud Canon district I doubt not that the corrasion of the river bed has been exceedingly 
rapid, and that the river has recovered its base level as often as disturbed in very short spaces of time, 
though grinding through many hundreds of feet of strata. This will appear more fully in the next 
two chapters. 

15 a 


I have in the preceding chapters shown that we find at this epoch the 
first indications of the existence of the great faults. It does not appear, 
however, that these faults all originated at exactly the same epoch, and it is 
certain that their respective amounts of displacement have increased very 
slowly and gradually with the lapse of time. Again, we cannot be sure 
that all parts of one and the same fault were begun at the same epoch. 
Indeed, the evidence is overwhelming that the development of these dislo- 
cations has been a very slow and gradual process, and all that can be said 
concerning their condition in the particular epoch of which we are treating 
(close of the Miocene) is that they first betray their existence at that time. 
Before this epoch we know nothing of them ; and at the time in question 
they were of inconsiderable dimensions for the most part. Their formation 
seems to have been incidental to the uplifting of the platform which took 
place aboiit the time the present Grand Canon began to cut. But concern- 
ing the nature of this association it is useless to speculate. In all the range 
of geological phenomena I know of none more perplexing than a great 
fault, and until we have some semblance of a working hypothesis which 
may serve or help to explain them, it is useless to speculate upon the causes 
of particular cases. 

We may also note the coincidence of the earlier basaltic eruptions 
with this period of uplifting and faulting. It has been noted as a fact of 
very general application, that volcanism is active during periods of upheaval, 
and becomes quiescent during subsidence. The relations of the two classes 
of phenomena in the Grand Canon district appear to conform to the general 

The amount of upheaval which took place at the epoch in question 
may also be roughly estimated. It varies from 2,000 to 3,000 feet. The 
uplifting forces then suspended operations for a time, and the drainage 
system sought a new base-level. During this paroxysm of upheaval the 
outer chasm of the Grand Canon was cut; the river corrading down to the 
level of the esplanade in the Kanab and Uinkaret divisions, but below that 
horizon in the Kaibab. The corrasion was probably done as rapidly as 
the country rose, or very nearly so. At first we may presume that only a 
narrow gorge was cut — like the upper portion of the Marble Canon. But 


the river found its base-level soon after the uplifting ceased, and the canon 
slowly widened by the recession of the cliffs. In this stage of the develop- 
ment an arid climate reigned throughout the district. Its effect is apparent 
chiefly in two ways : 1st, in the paucity of lateral tributaries and in the 
meagerness of small details in the land sculpture, and 2d, in the sharpness 
and abruptness given to all the cliffs, valleys, and mesa profiles. 

(1.) Allusion has frequently been made in previous chapters to the 
first mentioned effect of an arid climate. The only tributaries which 
remained during this period were the large and more powerful ones which 
had their sources far away in the highlands, around the margin of the water- 
shed. Within the inner platform of the district no streams took their rise. 
The large tributaries continued to sink their lateral gorges in unison with 
the corrasion of the main river, but no new chasms were generated. On 
the contrary, some of the lateral ti'ibutaries, which for a time valiantly 
sustained a doubtful struggle for existence, at last succumbed and dried up, 
leaving their troughs opening into the main gorge far up near the summit 
of the canon wall. 

(2.) The sharpness and abruptness of profiles which characterizes the 
plateau scenery is not of recent origin, but dates back no doubt to the 
beginning of the Pliocene. An arid climate is an important factor in pro- 
ducing this effect. In such a climate weathering proceeds slowly. If the 
conditions are such as to produce a high efficiency in the agencies which 
transport the debris, the rocks will he left comparatively naked; little soil 
and talus will be formed, and little will be left. The attack upon the edges 
of the horizontal strata will thus be facilitated and the profiles will be deter- 
mined chiefly by undermining. Such profiles are invariably cliffs. 

We come now to the final upheaval which has brought the region to 
its present condition. The Colorado River, after remaining without corra- 
sion at the level of the esplanade of the Canon during the greater part of 
Pliocene time, at length resumed the operation of sinking its channel. A 
new paroxysm of upheaval set in; the faults increased their displacement; 
the volcanic vents reopened. This time the upheaval was greater than 
before, amounting probably from 3,000 to 4,000 feet. The narrow, inner 
gorge at the Toroweap was swiftly cut, and it is in this respect a type of 


the lower deeps of the entire canon. Everywhere the rapid corrasion of 
the deeper gorges is revealed. The epoch at which this latest upheaval 
took place, is no doubt a very recent one in the geological calendar. It 
began most probably near the close of the Pliocene. That it has now 
ceased is almost certain. No trace of present movement can be detected 
in any of the faults, and it is certain that no movement tending to increase 
them has taken place in those portions which have been scrutinized. In 
the Uinkaret some lava flows ci'oss the Hurricane fault, and though they 
must be thousands of years old they are not dislocated. If any vertical 
movement is now in progress it is nowhere betrayed, and is unaccompanied 
by any of those collateral movements of faulting, which are usually asso- 
ciated with upheaval. 

During the last stage of the evolution of the region we have to con- 
sider a vevj interesting episode. The glacial period here intervenes between 
the arid climate of the Pliocene and that of the present time. As has been 
already remarked, the glacial period here was not icy, but rainy, and very 
probably colder than the present. In some localities it began to excavate 
systems of local drainage channels and to carve out minuter details of 
topography. In truth the amount of this work which was done in that 
period was quite considerable. The most striking instance is to be found 
in the ravines of the Kaibab. The smaller drainage of the Paria Plateau 
is another instance. West of the Kaibab we fail to find such conspicuous 
traces of the glacial period. The explanation of their absence or feeble- 
ness may be the fact that those western plateaus have scarcely any slopes 
upon which a drainage system could readily find foothold, while the 
slopes of the Kaibab summit and of the Paria platform are very consider- 
able. The glacial period appears to have been of too brief duration to 
achieve any very great results in this district. It may have increased the 
corrasive power of the Colorado and tributaries by furnishing a larger water 
siapply and there is decided reason for thinking that some of the canons in 
the terraces were rapidly corraded and deepened at this time. Most of those 
lateral canons in the terraces are slowly filling up with alluvium at the 
present time, but very plainly they were much deeper at no remote epoch 
in the past. The lower talus in some of them is completely buried and 














the alluvium mounts up on the breasts of the perpendicular scarps. In some 
cases a smooth floor of alluvium extends from side to side of what was 
originally a canon valley. (Plate XXXVII.) The recurrence of a climate 
sufficiently moist to sustain a vigorous perennial stream would probably 
sweep out all this unconsolidated alluvium, and return the valley to its for- 
mer condition of an ordinary canon. 



The canon is tte result of two processes acting in concert — corrasion and weathering. — G. K. Gilbert on 
the subject of corrasion. — Nature and extent of the water supply of the Colorado. — The tribu- 
taries. — Springs in the caiions. — Evaporation. — Quantity of water flowing in the river. — Origin 
and character of the load to be transported. — Character of the tributary streams. — Extremely 
turbid condition of their waters. — Rainfall of the region. — Character of the sediment. —The 
declivity of the river bed in the Grand and Marble Canons. — The rapids. — Relation of the bed- 
rock to declivity. — Rapids at the openings of lateral gorges.— General nature of the corrasive 
action. — Scouring action of the sand. — Weathering. — Conditions essential to the development of 
the topographical forms of the region. — The elevation of the country. — The horizontality of the 
strata. — Vertical heterogeneity and horizontal homogeneity. — Effects of an arid climate. 

The excavation of the Grand Canon and the sculpture of its walls and 
buttes are the results of two processes acting in concert — corrasion and weath- 
ering. In discussing these processes it is necessary to take into the account 
the peculiar conditions under which they have operated, and these are 
chiefly the climate and the elevation of the country. 

In common parlance it is customary to say that the river has cut its 
caiion. This expression states but a small portion of the truth. The river 
has in reality cut only a narrow trench, of which the width is equal to the 
width of the water surface. It has also been the vehicle which has carried 
away to another part of the world the materials which have been cut away 
by both processes. Opening laterally into the main chasm are manj^ am- 
phitheaters excavated back into the main platform of the country. At the 
bottom of each is a stream-bed, over which in some cases a perennial river 
flows, while in other cases the water runs only during the rains. Like the 
trunk- river itself, these streams, whether permanent or spasmodic, have cut 
down their channels to depths varying somewhat among themselves, but 
generally a little less than the depth of the central chasm. These tributa- 
ries often fork, and the forks are quite homologous to the tributaries in the 



foregoing respects. They too have cut narrow gashes no wider than their 
water surfaces. Down the faces of the walls and down the steep slopes of 
the taluses run myriads of rain gullies. When the rain comes it gathers 
into rills, which cascade down the wall-clefts and rush headlong through 
the troughs in the talus. Carrying an abundance of sand and grit, the 
waters scour out these little channels in much the same way as their united 
streams and rills cut down their beds in the amphitheaters and in the main 
chasm itself But the work of corrasion by running water is limited to the 
cutting of very narrow grooves in the rocks, the width of the cutting at 
any given time and 2)lace being equal to the width of the water-surface of 
the stream. Corrasion alone, then, could never have made the Grand 
Canon what it is. The amount of material removed by that process is but 
a very small fraction of the total excavation. Another process acting con- 
jointly with the corrasion, and in an important sense dependent upon it, has 
effected by far the greater part of the destruction. This additional process 
is weathering. In order to comprehend the combined results of the two, it 
is necessary to study their action in detail. 

Mr. G. K. Gilbert, in his excellent monograph on the Henry Mountains, 
has embodied a chapter on " Land Sculpture," which sets forth, in most 
logical and condensed form, the mechanical principles which enter into the 
problems of erosion. In his comprehensive analysis may be found a dis- 
cussion of the conditions under which the sculpturing forces and processes 
achieve such abnormal results as we observe in the Plateau Country. The 
perusal of that chapter will give a delightful definiteness to the geologist's 
comprehension of the subject, and the reader, however learned he may be, 
will take great satisfaction in finding a subject so complex made so intel- 
ligible. The principles laid down by Mr. Gilbert will be adopted here and 
applied. I quote from his work the following : 

"The mechanical wear of streams is performed by the aid of hard min- 
eral fragments carried along by the current. The effective force is that of 
the current; the tools are mud, sand, and bowlders. The most important of 
them is sand; it is chiefly by the impact and friction of grains of sand that 
the rocky beds of streams are disintegrated. 


" Where a stream has all the load of a given degree of comminution 
which it is capable of carrying, the entire energy of the descending water 
and load is consumed in the translation of the water and load, and there is 
none applied to corrasion. If it has an excess of load its velocity is thereby 
diminished so as to lessen its competence, and a portion is dropped. If it 
has less than a full load, it is in condition to receive more, and it corrades 
its bottom. A fully loaded stream is on the verge between corrasion and 
deposition. * * * The work of transportation may thus monopolize a 
stream to the exclusion of corrasion, or the two works may be carried for- 
ward at the same time. 

"The rapidity of mechanical corrasion depends on the hardness, size, 
and number of the transient fragments, on the hardness of the rock-bed, 
and on the velocity of the stream. * * * The element of velocity is 
of double importance, since it determines not only the speed, but to a great 
extent the size of the pestles which grind the rocks. The coefficients upon 
which it in turn depends, namely, declivity and quantity of water, have the 
same importance in corrasion that they have in transportation. 

" Let us suppose that a stream endowed with a constant volume of 
water is at some point continuously supplied with as great a load as it is 
capable of carrying. For so great a distance as its velocity remains the 
the same it will neither corrade nor deposit, but will leave the declivity of 
its bed unchanged. But if in its progress it reaches a place where a less 
declivity of bed gives a diminished velocity its capacity for transportation 
will become less than the load, and part of the load will be deposited; or 
if in its progress it reaches a place where a greater declivity of bed gives 
an increased velocity, the capacity for transportation will become greater 
than the load, and there will be corrasion of the bed. In this way a stream 
which has a supply of debris equal to its capacity tends to build up the 
gentler slopes of its bed and cut away the steeper. It tends to establish a 
single uniform grade. 

" Let us now suppose that the stream, after having obliterated all the 
inequalities of the grade of its bed, loses nearly the whole of its load. Its 
velocity is at once accelerated, and vertical corrasion begins through its 


whole length. Since the stream has the same declivity, and consequently 
the same velocity at all points, its capacity for corrasion is everywhere the 
same. Its rate of coirasion, however, will depend on the character of its 
bed. "Where the rock is hard, corrasion will be less rapid than where it is 
soft, and there will result inequalities of grade. But so soon as there is 
inequality of grade there is inequality of velocity and inequality of capacity 
for corrasion; and where hard rocks have produced declivities there the 
capacity for corrasion will be increased. The differentiation will proceed 
until the capacity for corrasion is everywhere proportioned to the resistance 
and no fui-ther; that is, until there is equilibrium of action. 

" In general, we may say that a stream tends to equalize its work in 
all parts of its course. Its power inheres in its fall, and each foot of fall 
has the same power. When its work is to corrade, and the resistance is 
unequal, it concentrates its energy where the resistance is great by crowd- 
ing many feet of descent into a small space, and diffuses it where the resist- 
ance is small, by using but a small fall in a long distance. When its work 
is to transport, the resistance is constant and the fall is evenly distributed by 
a uniform grade. When its work includes both transportation and corra- 
sion, as in the usual case, its grades are somewhat unequal, and the 
inequality is greatest when the load is least." 

The foregoing analysis is applicable to the Colorado. Among the large 
rivers of the world considered as trunk streams draining large areas its con- 
dition and operations are exceptional, though by no means wholly unique. 
Nearly all large rivers along their lower and middle courses and along con- 
siderable portions of the larger tributaries have reached or nearly approxi- 
mated to that condition of equilibrium of action which Mr. Gilbert speaks 
of, in which the transporting power is nearly adjusted without excess to the 
load to be carried ; and they have little or no tendency either to corrade or 
to deposit. But the Colorado is corrading rapidly, and has doubtless done 
so during a great part of its history. To appreciate fully the conditions 
which determine and sustain this action it is necessary to study them in 



The upper tributaries of this river* have their sources in lofty regions 
which are abundantl}^ watered. But the trunk river itself and its lower 
tributaries, and also the lower portions of the Green and Grrand Rivers, flow 
through regions which are exceedingly arid. Of the body of water which 
flows through the Grand Canon all but a small portion comes from the far 
distant highlands. The quantity contributed by the middle regions is very 
small. Although there are numberless water-ways opening into the great 
chain of canons, only a very few of them carry perennial streams, and 
these few living streams are mostly verj^ small. The remainder, constitut- 
ing by far the greater number of tributary chasms, convey spasmodic floods 
for a few days or hours at a time when the snows are melting, or when the 
infrequent showers and storms prevail. The river, however, receives acces- 
sions to its volume of water in the following manner. The country trav- 
ersed by its middle courses is deeply scored with a vast number of profound 
side canons, and the main stream itself flows at a depth varying from 1,000 
to 6,000 feet below the general surface of the adjoining country. The 
water which falls upon the country is in great part absorbed by the rocks 
and sinks into tl-.e depths, where no doubt it finds subterranean channels. 
Surface springs are exceedingly rare, but in the depths of the main chasm 
and in the bottoms of the side chasms near the river the springs are plenti- 
ful, and in many cases very copious, sending forth clear sparkling waters, 
beautiful to the sight, but sometimes heavily charged with obnoxious salts. 
In the Grand Canon especially are many springs of water, and not a few 
considerable streams of large volume emerging from the rocks in the lower 
depths. Most of them are good and fresh, and a few are saline and hot. 
The body of water thus supplied to the river is quite considerable, and it 
is important here to note the fact that it brings no sediment. 

Between the junction of the Green and Grand and the lower end of 

*Mr. Henry Gannett, gcograi lier of tlie census, makes tlie total area of tlie drainage system of 
the Colorado 255,049 square miles, being second in extent of all tlie rivers of the United States which 
reach the ocean. That part of this drainage area which lies above the Grand Wash is given ronglily 
at 105,000 square miles. 


the Grrand Canon — a distance of about 500 miles— the Colorado has only- 
two tributaries, which bring into it considerable bodies of water, and which 
at the same time run in the open air, as distinguished from subterranean 
streams. These are the San Juan and Little Colorado. The volumes of 
these rivers at their confluences are not accurately known, but during the 
greater portion of the year they are quite notable. They also bring great 
quantities of mud, sand, and gravel. Both enter the left bank of the river. 
All the other living streams are very small — in fact, mere rills — except at 
the times of irregular floods. On the other hand, the evaporation of the 
water in this part of the river in summer time must be very great.* The 
dryness of the air is exti'eme and the heat intense. In June, July, August, 
and September the midday temperature of the air is seldom below 90°, and 
often exceeds 110° Fahr., while the relative humidity is only from 0.3 to 0.4 
of saturation. Still the river probably receives more water from the springs 
in the canons and from the two larger tributaries than it loses by evapora- 
tion, and though the excess of this gain over the loss cannot be accurately 
valued I believe it to be considerable. Much importance is here attached 
to the fact that this increase in the volume of the stream in the canons con- 
sists largely of water wholly free from sediment. It means an increase of 
ti-ansporting power in the river without an equivalent increase in the amount 
of material to be transported. 

The quantity of water which the Colorado carries varies, of course, 
enormously from season to season throughout the year. A rough estimate 
may be made of its volume near its lowest stage. In the year 1877 Prof 
A. H. Thompson gauged the flow of the Green and Grand Rivers near their 
junction, in the latter part of September, and found 4,400 cubic feet per 
second in the Green and 4,860 cubic feet per second in the Grand. The 
sum of the two, 9,260 cubic feet per second, is no doubt less than the flow 
in the Grand and Marble Canons. The year was, so far as can be judged, 
very nearly an average one. At the time the measurement was made the 
river was very near its minimum. 

*A water surface 500 miles in length, with an average width of 400 feet and an average evapora- 
tion of 0.4 inch per day from every square foot of surface, would lose by evaporation 407.4 cubic feet of 
water every second. This is equivalent to a stream of water 45 feet wide with an average depth of 3 
feet flowing 3 feet per second. The rate of evaporation of 0.4 inch per twenty-four hours is, I believe, 
a low estimate for the Colorado in the great ehaiu of cauous during the hot months. 



We may now turn our attention to the material brought into the canons 
constituting the load to be transported. Although the Colorado is a river 
which derives the greater part of its water and transported material from 
lofty regions at a great distance from the canons, it still receives a notable 
amount of sediment from the Plateau Country contiguous to its banks. 
And it is interesting to note the conditions under which this sediment is con- 
tributed. The region adjoining the great canons of the Colorado is so arid 
that it does not give rise to a single surface stream. The very few tributa- 
ries to the canons which carry water enough to be worthy of notice have 
their sources far away in much loftier and moister countries. The rainfall 
of the region in question is not known, but it is doubtless exceedingly small, 
and if it be stated at 4 inches per annum for the region draining laterally 
into the Glen and Marble Canons, this amount seems to be as large as pres- 
ent knowledge may justify. In the Grand Canon district it is probably 
much greater, though still very small when compared with fertile regions. 
On the Kaibab, though the amount has never been measured, it seems as if 
20 inches per annum would be a very low estimate ; but this locality is 
quite exceptional. Rains sufficiently copious to saturate the soil and set the 
gulches running are very infrequent, and, perhaps, do not occur oftener 
than half a dozen times every year. But when they do come the conse- 
quences are very striking. The rills and washes are thick with mud and 
sand, and the water is loaded to its utmost capacity. There is no vegeta- 
tion to form a sod and hold the earthy matters in their jjlace. The instant 
a rill forms it is a rill of mud. The country being scored with numberless 
canons and steeply sloping gulches, the rills and streams are gathered 
together with marvelous rapidity and plunge furiously into these narrow 
chasms, where they rush along with prodigious velocity. The traveler in 
such a canon, who is admonished of the coming of a storm, cannot be too 
diligent in seeking a place of safety. The murmur of the falling rain is 
followed in an incredibly short time by the deafening roar of the torrent, 
which rolls madly down the chasm as if some great reservoir above had 


burst its dam and discharged its waters. As it moves onward it sweeps 
everything loose in its way. Huge fragments of tons weight fallen from 
the cliffs above are bowled along with a facility that is highly sugo-estive. 
The water is charged to its utmost capacity with fine sand and silt, and it 
is somewhat surprising to see how much of this stuff a given quantity of 
water can carry. In the Mesozoic rocks it would not be an improbable esti- 
mate to say that these spasmodic waters carry nearly three times their own 
volume of fine material, and it is quite certain that they often carry more 
than twice their volume. Every explorer in this region can recite expe- 
riences of trying to obtain from some of the rills water for camp use by 
allowing a kettle-full to stand over night in order to settle, and finding in 
the morning an inch or two of dubious water on the surface of the vessel 
with 7 or 8 inches of viscous red clay beneath and 3 or 4 inches of sand and 
grit at the bottom. The sediment thus transported is sand and clay. The 
rocks of the Mesozoic system are composed almost wholly of these two 
materials, the calcareous members being very few and of very small thick- 
ness ; and such of the latter as occur are more frequently gypsum than 
calcite. The Permian also is similarly constituted, though having a few 
notable bands of arenaceous limestone. The cementing material of the 
sandy-clayey beds of the Trias and Permian is more or less gypsiferous, 
and many of the layers are highly charged with selenite. The ready 
solution of this cement yields an abundance of sand and clay in highly 
comminuted form, and every copious shower washes it along in great 

The amount of this finer material which reaches the Colorado in the 
canons is very great : and what is most striking, the contributions are not 
extremely irregular. In the summer time local showers, though infrequent 
in any given locality, are frequent enough in this portion of the Plateau 
Country as a whole. From any commanding point, which overlooks a 
very great expanse, distant showers may be seen on very many days of the 
hot summer. If we were to spend a week on such a point we might reckon 
with a high degree of probability upon one or more days in which heavy 
showers would be visible in different parts of the panorama. They are, 
however, extremely local, and rarely cover such large extents of country as the 


thunder storms of the eastern States. It is not at all uncommon to see the 
rain streaks descending from a small cloud and falling upon areas no greater 
than three or four square miles. Still more curious is the formation of rain 
streaks without any cloud. When the season is showery many of the 
showers fail to reach the earth, the rain being completely re-evaporated in 
mid-air. It may thus be inferred that while rain is formed in the air daily 
throughout this region, only a small portion of it reaches the earth in 
showers sufficiently copious to saturate the soil and set the channels awash. 
Still, in an ordinary summer, a great majority of the days are somewhere 
marked with showers of sufficient volume to start the arroyas and canons 
and pour a debacle of mud and sand into the Colorado. The river itself is 
rarely clear, and is rarely otherwise than turbid and muddy. In the latter 
part of September and early part of October, the river is in some years 
quite clear, and at its lowest stage of water displays that beautiful pis- 
tachio-green color which is seen in the waters of Niagara below the falls. 
At this season showers are infrequent. In the latter part of October, or in 
November, a rain storm, lasting from two or three to eight or ten days, may 
be looked for, and indeed rarely fails. It overspreads the entire region, and 
though the precipitation is not usually very copious on an average, yet it 
is so in many localities, and is always sufficient to flood many canons which 
are normally dry, and to raise the water in the river very considerably. 
Immense quantities of sand and silt are then washed into the river, which is 
sometimes overburdened temporarily with sediment. 

The greater part of the precipitation takes place in the winter months. 
Its amount varies more with the altitudes of the localities than with any 
other cause. Upon the higher levels it falls almost wholly as snow, and is 
usually very considerable. On the Kaibab the snow is always very heavy. 
Upon the lower and middle levels the precipitation in winter is more irreg- 
iilar when different years are compared. One year will furnish a heavy 
snowfall; another year will yield only a small amount of rain.* 

* Our knowledge of the meteorology of this region is as yet very imperfect, especially as regards 
the precipitation of the winter and spring months. Such as we have is derived largely from the state- 
ments of the most intelligent of the Mormon people residing there. During the last six years I have 
had occasion to make many thorough inquiries of them and to converse with them at much length upon 
the subject. But the want of actual measurements of the amount of jirecipitation through a series of 
years is to be regretted. I can venture only so far as to give a general statement of what I am con- 


While the precipitation upon the middle and lower levels — 5,000 to 
6,500 feet above the sea — is on the whole quite small, the transporting 
power of such water as runs into the river is very great. A cubic yard of 
mnning water in the Plateau Country probably carries several times more 
sediment than the same quantity of water in the Atlantic rivers. This re- 
markable diflferenee is due to the following causes : In the first place the 
soil and comminuted ddbris of the plateaus is not held together by vegeta- 
tion, but lies loosely upon the rocks and taluses, and is easily gathered up 
by rills. But chiefly the slopes are always very great, and as the transport- 
ing power increases enormously with the declivity the only limit to the 
quantity of material a given volume of water can carry is reached when 
the mixture becomes so viscous that its own internal friction is great enough 
to seriously retard its rate of motion. In the rivers which drain the Appa- 
lachian region the finer material is supplied in quantity insufficient to load 
the running waters to their full capacity, while the rainfall is very copious 
and the declivities considerable. In the prairies of the Mississippi Valley 
the declivities are small, while the water supply is great and the finer mate- 
rial superabundant. In the plateaus the water supply is small, while the 
declivities are very great and the fine material also is relatively in excess. 
This will sufficiently explain why the spasmodic streams of the plateaus are 
so much more heavily loaded with sediment than those of moister regions. 


The declivity of the Colorado in the Grand Canon next requires our 
attention. Between the junction of the Little Colorado and the Grand 
Wash the absolute altitude of the river bed declines from 2,640 to 1,000 
feet above the sea — a total fall of 1,640 feet. The distance measured along 
the median line of the water surface is 218 miles, giving an average fall of 
7.56 feet per mile. But the rate of descent through the various parts of 
the canon varies considerably. The following table, derived from the meas- 

viuced is as near aii approximation to the truth as can be obtained at present, and this statement must 
necessarily be very meager. The great irregularity when different years are compared is, I am satisfied, 



urements of Professor Powell, shows the varying declivity of the major 
portions, and the accompanying profile represents them graphically. 


in miles. 

Total fall 
in feet. 

Fall per 

From Little Colorado to Kaibab Division 

Ivaibab Division 

Kauub Division 

TJinkaret Division 

Sheavwits Division 








Moreover, the fall is very unequal in the various parts of the subdivi- 
sions of the foregoing table, in which the fall for each division is averaged 
without exhibiting the true profile in detail. The following table represents 
a nearer approximation to the real variations of declivity. In this table the 
entire length of the canon is subdivided without reference to the individual 
plateaus, but in such manner as to embody portions of greater or less 
length, in each of which the declivity is not greatly varied. The numbers 
in the first column represent portions delineated in the accompanying pro- 
file and designated in the drawing by corresponding figures. In this table 
the Marble Canon is included. 

in miles. 

Fall in 


Fall in feet 
per mile. 

Ko. 1. Marble Caiion 

No. 2. From Little Colorado to the granite 

'No. 3. Granite Falls on Kaibal) 

ISTo. 4. In the granite to Powell's Plateau 

No. 5. Around -western base of Powell's Plateau 

No. 6. Head of Kanab Division 

No. 7. Main Kanab and Uinliaret Division 

No. 8. Slieavwits Division to granite 

No. 0. Granite to Diamond Creek 

No. 10. Granite below Diamond Creek 

No. 11. Granite below Diamond Creek 

No. 12. From the Sheavwits granite to the end at Grand "Wash 





















The foregoing table is the nearest approximation to the profile which 
the barometric measurements hitherto made enable us to furnish. But it 
by no means gives the true profile in detail. It still remains to give a 
verbal and general account of it. The entire extent of the river within 

pahx/i iu-\-3pit 




















— — 










/ c 


I H.%^ 

h ^v,= 





— 7 



















^ > 





r -7-^ 




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r ' 





1 1 






the canon is a succession alternately of smooth reaches, with very small 
declivity, and swift rapids where the declivity is very great. In the Kaibab 
the smooth reaches are short, while the rapids are long and of great descent. 
In the Kanab and Uinkaret divisions the reverse is the case — the smooth 
stretches are long, the rapids short and much less frequent and powerful. 
In the Sheavwits division the proportion of the smooth to the rapid portions 
is between those prevailing in the Kaibab and Kanab divisions respectively. 
By comparing the distribution of fall with the nature of the rocks through 
which the river runs, it appears very clearly that the greater declivities 
occur in the Archaean rocks. The river enters the Archaean in two great 
bends, one in the Kaibab, the other in the Sheavwits. In the Kanab and 
Uinkaret divisions the river flows in the Silurian and lower Carboniferous. 
The Archaean rocks are, as a rule, much harder and are corraded with more 
difficulty than the others, and to this more obdurate character the greater 
declivities may be traced. 

The rapids are, however, the results of two independent causes. (1) 
When the course of the stream lies in the hard rocks the rate of declivity is 
greater. The explanation is obvious. (2) The second cause is of a totally 
distinct nature. At the opening of every lateral chasm or side gorge a pile 
of rocks and rubble is thrown out into the main stream. Most of these 
side gorges are dry throughout the greater part of the year. But when 
the rains come their narrow beds are occupied with floods of muddy 
water, rushing downward with great velocity and often in great volume, 
bowling along fragments of all sizes from a few pounds to many tons. Thus 
an obstruction like a low dam is built across the river. The declivity of the 
side gorges is always much greater than that of the main stream. Their 
slopes are rarely less than 200 feet to the mile, except in those tributaries 
which, like Kanab Creek and Cataract Canon, are of great antiquity. The 
minimum slopes of the beds of the great amphitheaters in the Kaibab are 
seldom so small as 200 feet to the mile. The power of a great flood rush- 
ing down such slopes is indeed formidable. When the torrents reach the 
river the larger fragments are dropped; for the maximum slope of the main 
stream (reckoned throughout any stretch exceeding four or five miles in 
length) never exceeds 25 feet to the mile, and the water, though enormous 

16 G c 


in volume at flood time, has less velocity than the torrents of the side 
chasms. The river has, however, sufficient power to sweep onward masses 
of considerable size, which are rapidly ground up as they are rolled along. 

It is apparent that in the work of corrasion an important part consists 
of the work of grinding up and destroying the masses which are brought 
into the main chasm by the spasmodic floods in the side gorges. Indeed, 
this constitutes by far the greatest part of the entire work. The coarse 
material — the large rocks, bowlders, and rubble which pile up at the mouth 
of the lateral chasm — are gradually spread out below the dam, and the 
tendency is to build up and increase the grade of the smoother reach 
below. But this tendency is quickly checked and brought to a stop by 
the increased power of the main current due to the increased slope. The 
body of fragments thus rolled in is of great amount in the aggregate. On 
the whole, the amount at the present epoch is not sufficient to prevent 
the river from cutting down its channel, though the process is of course 
greatly retarded. The river is still sinking its chasm in the strata. There 
are many stretches of comparatively still water where there is an equilib- 
rium between the tendency to cut still deeper, and the tendency to build 
up the bottom by the accumulation of debris. But a great part of the 
river bed is in the bare rock of the Paleozoic and Archaean strata, and 
wherever it is so the corrasion is proceeding at a rapid rate. Still other 
cases occur where the rate of corrasion is retarded but not completely 
counterbalanced by the accumulation, and these no doubt constitute the 
greater part of the extent of the chasm. 

The great corrasive power of the Colorado is due to the large quantity 
of sand which it carries, and the high velocity given to its waters by its 
great declivity. As we have already shown, the quantit}^ of fine material 
brought into the canons is very large and the supply is almost continuous 
throughout the year. As Mr. Gilbert has well shown, a river may be pow- 
erless to corrade when its waters carry no sediment, and also when the sedi- 
ment is so excessive that it caimot transport the entire supply. Neither of 
these extremes is found in the Colorado. The waters are heavily charged 
but not overloaded. It must be noted, however, that in the smoother por- 
tions where the declivity is locally very small, the sand is often dropped, 


and accumulates while floods are subsiding, but it is lifted and carried for- 
ward again when the waters increase. At low water many sand bars are 
formed in the still reaches, but they are changed and modified by every 
flood, and many of them are wholly swept away and reconstructed with 
each oscillation. The scouring action of the sand is highly efficient. It is 
seen on all the rock surfaces laid bare by the subsidence of the waters, and 
in all the large fragments rolled in from the side goi'ges. The rocks are 
full of pot-holes and covered often with bosses highly polished and ground 
by the sand-blast. The large bowlders which fall from the clifi"s above, or 
which are brought in through the side gorges, are rapidly dissipated. The 
largest ones are deposited at the mouth of the gorge where the rapid is 
formed, and where they are exposed to the fullest energy of the current. 
The largest masses, if fully exposed to this action, can scarcely survive 
more than three or four years. Although the dissipation of the fragments in 
the Colorado has never, so far as I am aware, been watched and timed, we 
are not without the means of confidently inferring a very short duration of 
that process. In the hydraulic mines of California the water discharged 
against the gravel banks has been known to cut in a single year chasms 
from 12 to 20 feet deep in the hard basaltic pavements over which it flows. 
The actual time of operation is equivalent to not more than 1 00 days of unin- 
terrupted activity. No doubt the instance here cited is an extreme case of 
rapid corrasion, and is not strictly parallel to that of the river. But a large 
river always charged with sand, and careering swiftly over a dam of rocky 
fragments, is a very strong case, if not an extreme one, and we may per- 
haps be led to regard four years as a long life for a rock-mass, six feet in 
diameter, exposed to the full and uninterrupted action of the stream. 

Not all of the large fragments, however, are exposed to this continuous 
action, but many of them are out of water during the greater part of the 
year. At the opening of a side gorge the river is usually constricted, and 
in many cases the width is not more than one-third of the mean width. 
The coarse debris forms a deposit somewhat analogous to an alluvial cone. 

Undoubtedly the corrasion is most efficient during the stages of high 
water. In many and perhaps in most rivers this is not true, or at least is 
not necessarily true, for the sediment brought down by floods in other 


streams is often in excess of the actual lifting power of the water, and a 
portion of it is deposited. But in the Marble and Grand Canons this is 
rarely so. The flood-water comes from far distant regions. In the Glen 
Canon, where the declivity is notably less, any excess of load above the 
quantity easily transported (if any such excess ever occurs) is temporarily 
deposited. Reaching the Marble Canon the greater declivity at once aug- 
ments greatly tlie transporting power, and the torrent sweeps everything 
loose before it For six or seven weeks the corrasion goes on at a very 
rapid rate. Many reaches, which at low water are protected by sand and 
gravel, are swept bare, and for a time are subject to the full corrasive 
energy of the torrent. The water rises from 30 to 60 feet, attacking the 
slopes at the bottom of the gorge, which are ordinarily naked rock, and 
grinding them away at a rate which must be a rapid one during the time it 
is in operation. 

Reverting here in a summary way to the two classes of rapids formed 
in the river, we find that they are due to two wholly distinct causes — 1st, 
to the unequal hardness or resisting power of the strata in the bed of the 
stream; 2d, to the accumulation of piles of large fragments washed in 
through the lateral gorges. The greater number of rapids are due to the 
latter cause. The general characters of the two kinds, however, are strik- 
ingly different. Those which occur in the hard crystalline rocks are very 
long, and with some notable exceptions are less violent and headlong than 
the others, but they are also complicated with the second class of rapids, 
i. e., those due to the bowlders rolled in from the side chasms. If we sepa- 
rate the latter effects, we find the effect of hardness of the strata to be a 
general increase of slope distributed with some approach to uniformity over 
many miles of length of the river bed. It is plainly so in the Kaibab and 
Sheavwits, and this effect is not at all obscured by the joint operation of 
both causes. The rapids of the second class are short and violent, as might 
have been inferred from the nature of the cause which produces them. 



We have seen that the work of corrasion, pure and simple, is hraited 
to the cutting of deep and narrow gashes in the strata and to the grinding up 
of the larger fragments brought into the channels. The widening of these 
cuts into the pi'esent configuration of the canon and the sculpture of the 
walls are the work of the process which is termed weathering. By far the 
greater part of the material removed in the total process of the excavation 
has been broken up and comminuted by the action of atmospheric reagents, 
and their mode of operation is worthy of careful study. In the remaining 
part of this chapter I shall treat briefly of the more general conditions and 
features of this process, and devote the final chapter to the consideration of 
some of its striking details. 

The peculiar cliff forms of the Grrand Canon, and indeed of the prov- 
ince at large, would hardly be possible in any other country, for no other 
country presents all of the conditions which are necessary for them. These 
conditions may be summarized as follows: (1) The great elevation of the 
region. (2) The horizontality of the strata. (3) A series of strata con- 
taining very massive beds, which differ greatly among themselves in respect 
to durability, but each member or subordinate group being quite homo- 
geneous in all its horizontal extent; in a word, heterogeneity in vertical 
range and homogeneity in horizontal range. (4) An arid climate. 

I. It is at once apparent that great elevation is essential to the produc- 
tion of high reliefs in the topography by the agency of erosion. Only in 
a high country can the streams corrade deeply, and it is by corrasion that 
the features of this region have been originated and blocked out. The 
elevation, however, is a condition whose immediate consequences are asso- 
ciated with corrasion, while it affects weathering only secondarily or 
remotely. The principal effect is the determination of the heights of the 
cliffs and the magnitudes of the topographical reliefs in general. All this 
seems so obvious that discussion is superfluous. 

II. No less obvious is the effect of the horizontality of the strata. The 
long flat crestlines, the constant profiles maintained for scores of miles along 


the edges of each stratigraphic series, would not be possible otherwise. To 
appreciate this it is only necessary to glance at the effects which have been 
produced by the monoclines which at wide intervals interrupt the continuity 
and constancy of the cliffs. No wilder scene can be imagined than the 
pinnacles, towers, and domes which bristle upon the flank of a great flex- 
ure, like the Echo Cliff or Water Pocket folds. 

III. The condition of horizontal homogeneity with vertical heteroge- 
neity presents considerations some of which are as obvious as the foregoing, 
while others are extremely complex. It is clear that if the strata now form- 
ing the escarj^ment of the Vermilion Cliffs had varied rapidly from point to 
point in respect to the thickness of individual members, or in respect to 
their lithological characters, the action of weathering would have varied 
accordingly. The profiles would undergo rapid changes of form along the 
front. In truth, there is a certain amount of variability of just this charac- 
ter in that escarpment. The Vermilion Cliffs in the valley of the Virgen 
differ notably in detail from what they are at Kanab and near the Paria. 
The enormous sandstone member dwindles in thickness from west to east, 
and other members less conspicuous gradually lose identity, and the resem- 
blance of the two widely separated portions of the wall is only general. 
But the change along the front is very slow and is nowhere abrupt. 

The vertical heterogeneity is the character which gives complexity to 
the profile. Where the beds are numerous and where they differ among 
themselves as to durability, the profile becomes very complicated, like a 
very elaborate series of horizontal moldings. The extreme of simplicity 
is found in the Jui-assic sandstone, where the cliff consists of a single massive 
stratum 800 to 1,000 feet thick and homogeneous from top to bottom. 
Those more complex results which follow the action of weathering upon 
vertically heterogeneous strata will be discussed in the next chapter. 

IV. The effects of an arid climate are by no means simple nor intelli- 
gible at a glance. They appear only upoii analysis, and the analysis must 
take cogrnizance of a wide rano^e of facts. I cannot do better here than to 
have recourse to the excellent analysis of Gilbert : 

"All the processes of erosion are affected directly by the rainfall and 
by its distribution through the year. All are accelerated by its increase 


and retarded by its diminution. When it is concentrated in one part of the 
year at the expense of the remainder, transportation and corrasion are accel- 
erated and weathering retarded. Weathering is favored by abundance of 
moisture. Frost accomplishes most when the rocks are saturated ; and solu- 
tion when there is the freest circulation. But when the annual rainfall is 
concentrated into a limited season, a larger share of the water fails to pene- 
trate, and the gain from temporary flooding does not compensate for the 
checking of all solution by a long dry season. 

"Transportation is favored by increasing water supply as greatly as by 
increasino- dechvity. When the volume of a stream increases it becomes at 
the same time more rapid, and its transporting capacity gains by the incre- 
ment to velocity as well as by the increment to volume. Hence the increase 
in power of transportation is more than proportional to the increase of 
volume. It is due to this fact chiefly that the transportation of a stream 
which is subject to floods is greater than it would be if its total water supply 
were evenly distributed in time. 

"The indirect influence of rainfall and temperature by means of vege- 
tation has different laws. Vegetation is intimately related to water supply. 
There is little or none where the annual precipitation is small, and it is pro- 
fuse where the latter is great — especially when the temperature is at the 
same time high. In proportion as vegetation is profuse the solvent power 
of percolating water is increased, and on the other hand the ground is shel- 
tei-ed from the mechanical action of rains and rills. The removal of disin- 
tegrated rock is greatly impeded hj the conservative power of roots and 
fallen leaves, and a soil is thus preserved. Transportation is retarded. 
Weathering by solution is accelerated up to a certain point, but in the end 
it suffers by the clogging of transportation. The work of frost is nearly 
stopped as soon as the depth of soil exceeds the Hmit of frost action The 
force of rain drops is expended on foliage. Moreover, a deep soil acts as a 
distributing reservoir for the water of rains and tends to equalize the flow 
of streams. Hence the general effect of vegetation is to retard erosion ; 
and since the direct effect of great rainfall is the acceleration of erosion it 
results that its direct and indirect tendencies are in opposite directions. 

"In arid regions of which the declivities are sufficient to give thorough 


drainage, the absence of vegetation is accompanied by absence of soil. 
When a shower falls, nearly all the water runs off from the bare rock, and 
the little that is absorbed is rapidly reduced by evaporation. Solution be- 
comes a slow process for lack of a continuous supply of water, and frost 
accomplishes its work only when it closely follows the ■ infrequent rain. 
Thus weathering is retarded. Transportation has its work concentrated 
by the quick gathering of showers into floods so as to compensate, in part 
at least, for the smallness of the total rainfall from which they derive their 
power." (Geology of the Henry Mountains : G. K. Gilbert.) 

In this analysis of Mr. Gilbert I fully concur. It remains only to 
apply the principles he has developed. The effects which he deduces from 
an arid climate in a high country are a scanty soil, a diminished rate of 
weathering, and a great efficiency of transportation. We must further con- 
sider the effects of these varied conditions upon a country composed of hori- 
zontal strata which are vertically heterogeneous. The paucity of soil lays 
bare the edges of the rocks. The gentler slopes or taluses being found in 
the softer beds these are more readily weathered than they would be if the 
soil were more abundant. But harder beds are not so easily dissolved, and 
can be broken down only by the undermining resulting from the waste of 
underlying softer beds. Hence the hard strata form vertical ledges, while 
the softer beds form taluses or steep slopes, partially protected by debris 
and soil. In a word, the effect of an arid climate upon such a region as 
the Plateau Country is to increase the amount of bare rock, to sharpen the 
pi'ofiles and make them irregular, and to generate cliffs. To enforce this 
idea, let us imagine a moist climate returning to this region. The I'ate of 
weathering in the harder beds would be accelerated and the fragments and 
finer material would increase the amount of soil lying upon the sloped edges 
of the softer beds and the weathering of the latter would be retarded. Vege- 
tation would start into life and conserve this soil by clogging transportation, 
and the profiles would gradually lose their abrupt angular character and 
become softened and rounded, like those of the Appalachians. 

If the Plateau Country were at a much lower altitude the case would 
be very different. Ti-ansportation would then fail for want of declivity and 
soil would accumulate because it could not be cari-ied away. This, I con- 


ceive, is the state of affairs in the Sahara and Arabian deserts. Vast ex- 
panses of drifting sand are formed which can be carried away only by the 
winds. In those deserts there are no rivers whatever, and transportation 
b}^ streams is, therefore, at absohite zero. In the Plateau Country the 
streams, though few and mostly spasmodic, are still sufficient to lay bare 
an unusual amount of rock-surface. And the country is also so high that 
even many of the spasmodic streams can corrade deeply. 

We have also mentioned in preceding chapters that another effect of an 
ai'id climate is to suppress the smaller streams, and to leave only a few of 
the most powerful ones which head in the highlands around the borders of 
the Colorado drainage basin. The intervals between these persistent streams 
are not corraded, but remain as flat surfaces These flat surfaces may be 
regarded as so many local base-levels maintaining a considerable amount of 
soil which protects them from erosion. The only way in which erosion can 
prosecute its attack at present is by sapping the faces of the walls laid bare 
by the few streams which are still able to corrade. The total process of 
erosion, therefore, resolves itself into the luethod which Powell has so aptly 
called the Recession of Cliffs. The study of some of the more striking de- 
tails of this process will be one of the themes of the following chapter ; and 
it is full of beauty and interest 


The formation and functions of the talus. — Effect of vertical heterogeneity upon cliff profiles. — The 
talus acts as a protecting mantle to the softer strata. — It is the regulator of the profile. — Curva- 
ture of profiles. — Its cause. — Application of analysis to the cliffs of the Grand Canon. — The upper 
Aubrey. — The cross-hedded sandstone. — The curved profile of the lower Aubrey. — Stability of 
normal profiles. — -The Red Wall cliff. — Differences between the profiles of the Kaibab and those 
of the other divisions. — Explanation of the differences. — The contours or ground plans of amphi- 
theaters and alcoves. — Rounded inward curves and projecting cusps. — Explanation of these 
features. — Statement of the general conditions to which the ijeculiar sculpture of the chasm is due. 

In the latter part of the preceding chapter I have formulated the more 
general conditions under which erosion acts. In the present chapter I shall 
consider the methods of operation of the forces which have produced the 
architectural forms displayed in the cliffs of the great chasm and of the 
adjoining country. The key to the problems they present is found when 
we analyze 


Since the attack of erosion under the conditions prevailing in the Pla- 
teau Country is mainly directed against the edges of the horizontal strata, 
and since these strata vary among themselves in respect to hardness or du- 
rabihty, it follows that the different beds would, if the exposures were 
equal, weather at different rates. The softer beds would disintegrate rapidly 
and undermine the edges of harder beds overlying them. The harder beds 
being robbed of support, cleave off by the joints and the fragments fall. 
The fragmental material thus produced is not immediately carried away, 
but remains in part and forms a talus. This talus, however, is ultimately 
dissipated by solution, disintegration, and transportation, and the rate at 
which it is finally carried off is in the long run sensibly equal to the rate at 
which its material is supplied. It remains to consider the arrangement 




Develojjituml of Cafwii Profiles. 

Dev^Jopmeitt^Pro/ilee by JlecessioTV.-Upper anclLtiniir JTiibrei/ 



which this fragmental matter takes and its reaction upon the rate and mode 
of weathering. We may reach the matter most easily by discussing a 
hypothetical arbitrary case. 

Let us suppose a series of strata consisting of four groups (Plate XL), 
the uppermost group (A) being obdurate or very unyielding to the attack 
of weathering ; the next below (B) being notably softer or less obdurate ; 
the third (C) being hard ; and the fourth (D) soft.* Conceive a sti-eam cor- 
rading a gash nearly but not quite through the hard upper stratum. The 
quantity of fragmental material furnished will vary {ceteris imribus) inversely 
with the hardness of the rock, and since the hardness is assumed to be great, 
the quantity supplied will be small. On the other hand, the fragments fall- 
ing into the stream are quickly dissipated by corrasion. In other words, 
the removal of debris by transportation is for a time at the extreme of ra- 
pidity. Corrasion, moreover, while a country is rising, is a very rapid pro- 
cess in comparison with the rate of recession of a hard massive wall. Very 
little talus, therefore, can form at this stage ; the obdurac)^ of the wall rock 
prevents its recession ; little material is supplied which could serve to form 
a talus, and that little is quickly swept off by the stream. Hence the canon 
will be narrow, with vertical or nearly vertical walls, and no appreciable 
talus will accumulate. 

Conceive now the corrasion to go on until the stream has cut nearly 
but not quite through the soft group B. The supply of ddbris is greatly 
increased. The soft beds weather easily and undermine the hard beds above. 
Let us recall here that the width of the cut is no greater than the width of the 
water surface. As the cliff recedes the fragments begin to find a lodgment at 
its base, and though some of them roll into the stream and are devoured, yet 
another portion must await the slower process of solution and gradual decay 
before disappearing. Thus the rate of transportation slackens by the 
decreasing dechvity of the river, while the rate of supply of debris in- 
creases. As the cliff further recedes the talus mounts higher and higher 
up the breast of the softer part of the wall. The faces of the softer strata 
become in due time a slope capable of supporting a talus. 

*I am unable to think of a pair of adjectives which will suitably express the great and small 
degrees of obduracy of rocks against weathering. I shall use the terms " hard" and "soft," therefore, 
in this sense. 


Conceive now the stream cutting nearly but not quite through the 
second hard group C The case here is not quite the same as when it was 
cut near to the base of A ; for in the earlier or higher stage of the river all 
the debris came from A alone ; while in the present case A, B, and C are 
all furnishing fragmental mattei*. Hence the corrasion is slackened and a 
small amount of talus may accumulate at the edge of the stream. Still the 
edges of C will be nearly vertical except very near the bottom. 

Finally, conceive the stream to have cut through the soft group D, and 
suppose that at the bottom of this group it remains for a considerable period 
at a base-level The edges of D are steadily sapped and C is undermined. 
But the undermining of C cuts off the foot of the slope in B, increasing 
the declivity in that group and facilitating the descent of fragments. And 
this, in turn, accelerates the rate of weathering in B and the rate of under- 
mining of A. Thus, curiously enough, the state of affairs at the bottom of 
the canon influences the rate of recession at the summit of its wall. 

We must now note the fact that a talus acts as a protecting mantle to 
the rocks it covers, screening them partially from dissolution by weather- 
ing. The heavier the talus the greater is the protection. But the amount 
of talus which can remain at any given level is dependent invei'sely upon the 
slope ; and the talus is always descending by the action of the rains. Hence 
the accumulation is greatest at the bottom of the canon. When, therefore, 
the recession of the wall has gone so far that the descending fragments do 
not fall at once into the stream, the lowest beds of all receive the most pro- 
tection. The rate of recession of these lowest beds, therefore, becomes 
retarded. The protection diminishes as we go higher and the rate of reces- 
sion increases correspondingly. 

It follows at once that the talus is the regulator of the cliff-profile ; for 
it checks the rate of recession in the softer beds, keeping their recession 
down to the mean i-ate, while, by undermining, the recession of the hard 
beds is brought up to the mean rate. As soon as the talus is established on 
the lowest slope (D), the cliff may be said to have attained its normal pro- 
file, and in all subsequent recession that profile undergoes little change. 
The only modification it receives is a decrease in the slope D, which 
becomes longer and also takes the form of a curve, concave upwai-ds. The 


cause of this curvature is as follows. If the rate of recession in the soft 
beds, as due to the protection of talus, were proportional in a simple ratio 
to the height above the bottom, the slope would be straight, but would 
gradually decrease its inclination as the cliff recedes. But, in fact, the law 
governing the rate of recession is more complex. The protection given to 
the lower beds increases downwards in a higher ratio than a simple one, 
being as the square of the distance below the base of C, or, perhaps, in a 
still higher ratio This arises from the fact that not only is the quantity of 
debris and soil greater in the lowest beds, but it is finer and more compact. 
Hence the rate of recession becomes inversely proportional to the square (?) 
of the distance below the base of C, and the curve becomes a segment of 
an hyperbola. 

The conclusions from the foregoing discussion are abundantly exempli- 
fied throughout the cliffs and canons of the Plateau Country. Take, for 
instance, the case of the Jurassic sandstone as one extreme. This rock is 
very hard and resistant and very homogeneous. It weathers with extreme 
slowness. The canons which are cut deeply into it, but not through it or 
deeply into the Trias below, are always narrow and have very bold and 
precipitous walls. The extreme is reached in the canons of the forks of the 
Virgen. These are merely narrow clefts in the rocks many hundreds of 
feet in depth. But as soon as the stream beds cut into the softer members 
of the middle and lower Trias the chasms at once widen out and then grow 
wider as the stream cuts lower. The talus at the base of the Jurassic es- 
carpments is always small and often entirely absent. It is, moreover, a 
general fact that the canons narrow up as they pass into hard rocks and 
widen out as they pass into soft rocks. 

In the foregoing discussion we have all the conditions necessary for 
understanding the cliff-work and sculpture of the Grand Canon, and we 
may now proceed to apply these principles to the peculiar profiles which 
the chasm presents in its several portions. The summit beds, consisting of 
arenaceous and cherty limestones, are of medium obduracy. They contain 
a large amount of silicious matter, and if blocks of it were submitted to the 
stone-cutter they would be pronounced excessively tough and hard ; but, 
owing to the presence of an abundant calcareous cement of soluble char- 


acter, it yields readily to weathering. Much of the silica has been aggre- 
gated into the form of cherty nodules, which are very abundant, forming, 
indeed, a considerable percentage of the entire mass of these beds. The 
nodules are to a considerable extent arranged in horizontal bands, occurring 
at frequent intervals, with separating layers of sandy limestone, in which 
the nodules, though still numerous, are less frequent. In the process of 
weathering, the nodules are less easily dissolved than the inclosing matrix, 
and as the rock decays they are left projecting from its mass, giving the 
faces at a little distance the appearance of a bedded conglomerate. Ulti- 
mately they are detached and fall down upon the talus below. Millions of 
these nodules are found in the great talus across the edges of the lower 

The thickness of the upper Aubrey limestones (of which there are 
several members of somewhat varied constitution) is altogether about 700 
feet. Beneath them comes the hardest and most obdurate mass of the entire 
Carboniferous series — the cross-bedded sandstone. Its thickness is about 
350 to 375 feet. It forms a vertical ledge which is seldom broken into a 
slope. It is seen as a most conspicuous band in the summit wall in every 
amphitheater and promontory. Beneath it is a vass mass of rather thinly 
bedded sandstones, constituting the lower Aubrey group. Their total thick- 
ness exceeds a thousand feet. These sandstones are the most yielding of 
any portion of the Carboniferous series, since the cement which holds the 
mass together is to a notable extent gypsiferous. It seldom forms a great 
cliff, but is in reality a succession of ledges often imperfect and bev- 
eled off, but sometimes well marked and precipitous. The individual 
ledges are of very small altitude, con-esponding to the thickness of the 
sevei'al members. They are to a considerable degree protected by the 
nodules of chert and the slabs of hard sandstone shot down from the cal- 
careous members and cross-bedded sandstone above. In the vast expanse 
of wall surface the individuality of the separate ledges disappears, and the 
general effect conveyed by the lower Aubrey is that of a long, steep, and 
regular slope. When seen in profile the true slope is readily appi-eciated ; 
but when viewed directly in front, or with moderate obliquity, it looks too 
steep for human foothold, though it is by no means so. 


Leaving for future consideration the characteristics of the great Red 
Wall group and the strata beneath it, let us endeavor to infer the typical 
forms of cliff profiles generated by the combined action of corrasion and 
weathering in the strata thus far described. Imagine first a stream corrad- 
ing its channel through the upper Aubrey limestones. The degree of ab- 
ruptness in the slopes descending to the stream would be dependent upon 
the rate of weathering relatively to the rate of corrasion. If the rate of 
corrasion were slow and the rate of weathering rapid the slopes would be 
gentle or at a low angle ; if the corrasion were rapid and the weathering 
slow the banks would be precipitous. Imagine the stream to corrade still 
further into and through the very obdurate cross-bedded sandstone. Upon 
this latter rock weathering has but little effect directly. It may stand for 
long geological periods with but a slight loss of substance, provided it is 
not undermined. Corrasion, however, may go on in it at a rate somewhat 
retarded by its obduracy indeed, but only a little less rapidly than in much 
softer rocks; for declivity and the amount of protection aff'orded by the 
clastic material in the bed of a stream are incomparably more potent factors 
than the hardness of the bed-rock in determining the rate of corrasion. But 
the rate of weathering is dependent upon the nature of the stratum itself 
Hence the limestones above would be much less precipitous than the ada- 
mantine sandstone below. 

Imagine, further, the sinking of the channel deep into the very easily 
weathered shaly sandstones of the lower Aubrey. The problem now be- 
comes a little more complicated. As before, the quality of the newly-cut 
rocks does not necessarily imply any great increase in the rate of corrasion. 
But it does imply a modification in the rate of weathering and in the con- 
sequent form of the profile. A new factor now enters in the plan of opera- 
tions. In consequence of their very yielding character the shaly sandstones 
are rapidly dissolved and the adamantine stratum above is undermined. The 
rate of recession becomes in the harder stratum equal to that in the softer 
shales beneath it. So rapid at first is this decay that at a certain early stage 
of the penetration of shales by the corrading stream the cross-bedded sand- 
stone and the cherty limestones above often form a single ledge. The rate 
at which they are undermined is for a time greater than the rate of reces- 



sion in the medium hard cherty limestones. But this condition is gradually 
brought to a check by the formation of a talus. We have observed that 
the softer and more yielding the beds under the action of weathering the 
longer and less steep will be the weathered slope across their edges. Upon 
this slope across the edges of the shaly sandstones accumulate many of the 
cherty nodules and fragments of the adamantine sandstone, with large 
quantities of fine sand, and even a little soil. The ddbris lodging there 
protects, to an important extent, the shaly sandstones and retards more and 
more their rate of weathering, retards the rate of undermining, and dimin- 
ishes gradually the supply of debris to the talus. Thus the great increase 
in the rate of weathering caused by corrasion penetrating the yielding shales 
is, to a great extent, countervailed by the formation of the talus. It now 
becomes apparent that the resulting profile of the entire cliff has a perfectly 
definite and stable configuration or typical form, which the combined action 
of all the incident forces tends strongly to maintain. 

The cliff formed out of the upper and lower Aubrey series is very re- 
markable for the constancy of its profile throughout the entire extent of the 
great chasm. Along every mile of the main fa9ade, in every amphitheater 
and alcove, and in every promontory, wing wall, and gable, it discloses the 
same familiar features. It is the wall of the upper or outer chasm. In the 
Kanab, Uinkaret, and Sheavwits divisions it stands far away from the lower 
or inner chasm — an interval of two miles usually separating- its base from 
the brink of the inner gorge. In the Kaibab division the Aubrey wall is 
unchanged in its general character, but everything below it is there in strong 
contrast with what is disclosed in the -other divisions. In the three western 
divisions the broad platform at the base of the upper wall is a very striking 
feature ; in the Kaibab the platform is quarried away by the lower depths 
of the amphitheaters, leaving only intervening buttes, and the profile at 
the base of the great lower Aubrey talus at once plunges vertically down 
the precipices of the Red Wall limestone. In many places the Aubrey cliff 
in its recession by waste is so closely pursued by the recession of the Red 
Wall below that a few hundi-ed feet of the lower Aubrey talus are cut off 
and the shales at the base of that series are undermined, forming cliffs which 
are continuous vertically with the great Red Wall precipice below. Almost 






cr n 


1 « 
o W 

en W 

§ a 

2. < 
=• > 
0^' ^ 







everywhere, in fact, throughout the Kaibab division the platform of the 
Middle Terrace is obHterated and the entire Carboniferous series forms one 
wall of alternate vertical ledges and taluses. The reason for this difference 
will soon become manifest. 

Let us now pursue further the evolution of the cliffs by imagining the 
sinking of a stream by corrasion into the Red Wall series. This forma- 
tion, constituting the lower Carboniferous of the southwestern Plateau 
Country, is one of the most extraordinary in the world. It is composed 
principally of limestones of the most massive and homogeneous description, 
one bed being over 750 feet in thickness without any visible horizontal part- 
ing ; another of nearly 400 feet, and a third of more than 300 feet. There are 
also several other massive layers of limestone, and these calcareous beds are 
quite similar to each other in their lithological characters. At the summit 
of the Red Wall is a group of calcareous sandstones, very heavily bedded 
for the most part, and about 350 feet in total thickness. Beneath the huge 
limestone members other calcareous sandstones appear in considerable mass, 
with a thickness of about 75"0 feet. These lower beds are conspicuous to 
the eye by their deep rich brown color. With the exception of the largest 
limestone member, all of these great beds vary somewhat as they pass 
through great horizontal distances. They often subdivide into thinner beds 
and the amount of arenaceous matter which they contain also changes. 
These changes of character, however, are seldom or never abrupt, but 
usually take place by almost imperceptible degrees along many miles of ex- 
posure. In the Kanab division the whole series of nearly 2,500 feet thick- 
ness is wonderfully massive, and the partings of the strata are comparatively 
few. In the Kaibab the great 750-foot limestone is as solid as ever, but 
most of the other members have become laminated much more minutely 
than in the Kanab and Uinkaret, and are of more perishable texture. The 
results of the attack of weathering upon the edges exposed by corrasion 
vary accordingly. In the Kaibab several causes have combined to produce 
a far greater amount of destruction in the Red Wall series than in the 
Kanab and Uinkaret divisions. 

The causes which have produced in the Kaibab a topography differing 
so widely from that which is seen in the other divisions of the chasm may be 
17 G c 


readily explained. The Kaibab is now, and throughout the period of evo- 
lution of the chasm it always has been, higher than the other plateaus. 
Corrasion has, therefore, penetrated there more deeply than elsewhere. It 
has, moreover, laid bare the edges of the softer beds underlying the Red 
Wall, and the rapid decay of these lower beds has undermined and wasted 
the Red Wall to a great extent In the other divisions of the chasm con-a- 
sion has only at a very recent period cut below this great series of hard 
limestones. In a word, the process of development of the canon is much 
more advanced than elsewhere. Besides the greater altitude leading to 
deeper corrasion, the climate of the Kaibab is moister, and the degrading 
forces are, therefore, more efficient. If, in future periods, the three western 
plateaus should be further elevated, it may be anticipated that the chasm 
would there assume gradually the features now seen in the Kaibab. 

There are certain forms in the contours or ground plans of cliffs which 
claim attention. One of the most striking features in the vast maze of cliff- 
work in the Grand Canon is found in the extremely tortuous lines of front- 
age. They wind about in a most intricate manner and rarely extend in 
straight lines through any considerable distances. The lines of trend 
usually are a succession of sweeping curves and sharp angles. The first 
view is extremely confusing, and under the influence of many causes of 
optical delusion prevailing in the landscape, it is very difficult to see any- 
thing but chaos — an utter absence of anything like system or arrangement. 
But patient study and analysis at length reveal many striking evidences of 
order. If we consider any one of the larger amphitheaters opening later- 
ally into the main chasm, we shall note that it has many lateral amphithea- 
ters opening into it of an inferior order of magnitude. This is well por- 
trayed in Mr. Bodfish's map of the Kaibab division. All of them are the 
result of corrasion and weathering. They illustrate the remarkable uni- 
formity of the rate of weathering-. The upper ends of the minor recesses 
are usually rounded in contour. The longitudinal wall extending to its 
confluence with the main amphitheater makes at that point a sharp angle. 
The weathering of these walls has obviously originated in the corradiug 
channels of the lateral tributaries and their minuter branches. As the nar- 
row cleft cut by the sinking stream deepened it also widened. If we rep- 





resent the locus of the edge of any stratum high in the series at successive 
epochs of the development by parallel equidistant lines, we shall have a 
series of curves running up the stream nearly parallel to its course, then cir- 
cling around its head and returning to its mouth. As these curves recede 
from the stream the more nearly do they approach to arcs of circles. The 
same recession is going on in the walls of the main amphitheater, into which 
the minor one opens. Where two minor or major amphitheaters are situated 
near each other the recession of their walls at length obHterates a portion 
of the summit stratum which divided them, and at later stages successively 
obliterates lower and lower members. The great cloister-buttes are formed 
by the recession of the walls of any two parallel major amphitheaters, and 
the wings of these buttes by the recession of the walls of the minor amphi- 
theaters. The minor recesses exhibit the rounded contours at their upper 
ends. Everywhere is disclosed an approximate uniformity in the rate of 
recession. Where the expanding curves of recession from any two adjoin- 
ing recesses meet or intersect, the included mass between them is carved 
sometimes into a cusp or sharp "spur," sometimes into a stately gable, ac- 
cording to the relative positions of the axes of the curves. The spurs are 
frequently very narrow and sharp, and in an advanced state of erosion such 
a spur in the Red Wall band breaks into a row of needles or pinnacles. 
Many of the gables are of most noble form and of wonderful symmetry. 
Human conception cannot surpass their beauty even if it can rival it. 

The cusp contour is also repeated on a minor scale in the wall faces, 
where it appears as a minor decoration or fretting of the edges of the strata. 
It is especially conspicuous in the Kaibab. It appears to have its origin in 
minor corrasion by storm sluices, which at first scour out at frequent and 
regular intervals deep notches, which widen out by weathering, and once 
started the recesses or alcoves thus opened perpetuate themselves. The con- 
tour hue along the face of the cliff" thus curves inward and the intersection 
of two curves at their ends forms the cusp. 

In the faces of the great limestone member of the Red Wall may be 
seen large niches or panels of very regular form spanned by circular arches 
above. These panels must be more than 600 feet high and 500 to 600 feet 
wide. Sometimes they are very deeply recessed in the fa9ade, sometimes 


only slightly so. There are literally hundreds of these niches along the 
extent of the limestone front, and, so far as known, they are seen in no 
other member. Mr. Holmes has made a di-awing of three of these (Plate 
XLI), which well represents their character. I am unable to explain the 
cause of this persistent phenomenon and am very much perplexed by it. 
There is seldom any long stretch of the Red Wall exposure in which these 
panels are not found, and they are usually of the same form and dimensions 
throughout the Kaibab division. In the Kanab and Uinkaret divisions 
they are much less numerous, though still common. 

The analysis of details in the sculpture of the Grand Canon might be 
extended almost without limit, but the examples here given must suflBce. It 
appears that the laws which govern the action of the eroding agents are 
highly complex, though by careful study and close attention they may be 
mastered. As already remarked these peculiar forms would hardly be pos- 
sible in any other region, since no other region (so far as known to me) 
presents similar conditions. These conditions have been stated to be as 
follows, and the effect of each has been stated : (1.) The great elevation 
of the region. (2.) The horizontality of the strata. (3.) A series of strata 
containing very massive beds, which differ greatly among themselves in re- 
spect to obduracy to weathering, but each member being very homogeneous 
in all its horizontal extent ; in a word, heterogeneity in vertical range and 
homogeneity in horizontal range. (4 ) An arid climate. 

No doubt the question will often be asked, how long has been the time 
occupied in the excavation of the Grand Canon 1 Unfortunately there is 
no mystery more inscrutable than the duration of geological time. On this 
point geologists have obtained no satisfactory results in any part of the 
world. Whatever periods may have been assigned to the antiquity of past 
events have been assigned provisionally only, and the inferences are almost 
purely hypothetical. In the Plateau Country Nature has, in some respects, 
been more communicative than in other regions, and has answered many 
questions far more fully and graciously. But here, as elsewhere, whenever 
we interrogate her about time other than relative, her lips are sternly closed, 
and her face becomes as the face of the Sphinx. 


Absiract of the Monograph 1 

Age of the Grand Cauon 187,191,226 

Echo Cliff monocline 205 

Hurricane fault - UG,226 

Uinkaret lavas 110, IIB 

East Kaibab monocline 191, 199 

Toroweap fault 93 

Alcoves ^^^ 

Alluvium, canons refilled with '-28 

Altitude of Eocene strata 71 

Grand CaQon district 19 

Kaibab Plateau 186 

Markiigunt 20 

Stewart's Cafion 130 

terraces 47 

VermiUon Cliffs 40,54 

walls of Caiion Toroweap 87 

Amphitheater Bright Angel 172 

Hindoo 169 

Ottoman 175 

Shinumo 167 

Ta-peats 158 

Upper Paria 16 

Amphitheaters of the Kaibab Chap. IX 

Ancient valley on the Kaibab 192 

Aquarius Plateau, post-Cretaceous unconformity. --. 315 

Archtean rocks of Arizona 18,66 

Kaibab division 146, 170 

in the river bed - 207,242 

Arid climate drying up rivers 25, 99, 227 

effects of, upon topography 227, 245, 246 

of the Pliocene 119, 190, 223 

and weathering of basalt 112 

Arizona, topography of 11, 66 

Atmosphere of Grand Caiion 153 

Attenuation of strata eastward 47, 06, 67 

Aubrey cuffs 18,66 

limestones 88,254 

group 88, 89 

Axes of displacement 216 

Basalt, Central Arizona 66 

G ran d C a non 95, 180 

recent 108,111 

of the Sheavwits 107, 223 

TJinkaret ..12,83,94,104,223 

Basaltic Plateaus 106 

Base level of erosion 76,119,121,224 

Big Spring, Stewart's CaSon 129,139 


BitterCreek beds 16 

Bowlders from side gorges 241 

Brackish- water beds. Eocene 28 

Bright Angel Amphitheater 172,174 

Buttes in Grand Canon 145, 147, 158, 172, 175 

Cactus 127 

Cambro-SUurian 207 

Caiions, alluvium in 228 

floods in - 236 

general characters of 143 

ofSan Juan Basin 222 

Cape Final 176 

Eoyal 176 

Carbonaceous shales, Cretaceous 69, 212 

Carboniferous age 208 

compared with Cretaceous 212 

strata of Central Arizona 66 

Grand Canon Platform .3,17, 19, 81, 207 

limestones 209 

Marble Caiion platform 203 

Toroweap 87 

Uinkaret 102,118 

Cinder cones, Uinkaret 82, 104, 106, 109 

Grand Cafflon 94 

Clay and sand in river 237 

Clay-slates, absence of 210 

Cliffs, characteristic of formations . - - 45 

Cretaceous 32 

of displacement (note) 130 

Eocene, or Pink 27 

Jurassic 35 

Permian 43, 80. 81 

Pink 27 

profiles of 227 

regnl.ited by talus 251 

recession of 62,200,249 

Vermilion (Triassic) 40 

Climate of Miocene 189 

Pliocene 190,201,222 

Cloisterbuttes 148,167 

Cloud effects 54, 154 

Coal, Cretaceous 67,212 

Colob Terrace 36,40 

Colorado Plateau 14, 186 

Eiver 90, 98, 161, 164 

declivity of 239 

origin of 7, 217 

turbidity of 238 





Colorado River, water supply of 234 

Colors, Aubrey sandstones 88 

Carboniferous 91, 151 

Cretaceous 32 

Jurassic 38 

Permian 80, 151 

Pinkcliffs 27 

valley of tbe Virgen 57 

Vermilion Cliffs 54 

Cones of TJiukaret 82, 104, ICG, 100 

Conglomerate Sbin-a-rump 44 

Corrasion 119, 120, 230, 251 

of the Colorado 227, 242 

originating reliefs 245 

of river channels 201 

Cretaceous age 212 

compared with Carboniferous 212 

land areas 214 

strata, Echo Cliffs 205 

former extent 33,68,214 

in the terraces 16, 31 

Cross-bedded sandstone, Aubrey 88, 159, 193, 254 

Jurassic 35,69,214 

Cusps 169,259 

Declivity of Colorado 239 

Marble Canon 240 

side gorges 241 

Dellenbaugh, Mount 12 

De Motte Park 135. 171, 186, 193 

Denudation, The Great Chap. IV 

of Grand CaBon district 3, 119, 189, 220, 225 

Deposition, continuity of 211 

in shallow waters 213 

Depths of Carboniferous ocean 210 

Grand Caiion 22, 87, 142 

Descent of canon wall, Toroweap 97 

Ta-peats Amphitheater 159 

Desert scenery 79,81, 124 

vegetation 80, 127 

Devonian 18, 207 

Diabase 180 

Dikes in caQon wall 95 

Dimensions of Grand Canon 87, 142, 144 

Dip of strata, general northward 46, 70 

increasing at bases of cliffs 47 

Marble Canon platform 203 

Paria Plateau 201 

of Plateau Province 213 

Displacements. (See Faults.) 

Drainage, lateral, of Grand Canon 48 

system of district 22 

evolution of 72, 217 

Kaibab 136, 169, 192, 228 

Paria Plateau 201 

Drying up of Eocene lake 29,220 

lateral streams 98, 99, 120, 194 

Eastern bend of Grand Caiion 23 

East Kaibab monocline 13,177, 183 

age of 199 

Echo Cliffs monocline 74 

age of 205 

strata of 39, 41 

view of 176 

Elevation of Grand Cafion district 69, 245 

Emma, Mount 100 

platform 104 


Eocene age ..i 215 

former extension of 31,61,68 

strata 16, 27 

Erosion, base-levels of 76 

details of. Chap. XIV 

East Kaibab monocline 178 

factors of 64 

the great lesson 1,61 

methods of 62 

Escalante monocline 215 

Esplanade of Grand Caiion 87 

Evaporation 235 

Evolution of the Kaibab 187 

Escavationof the caiion Chap. XITI 

Extinct river of the Kaibab 192 

Faults— East Kaibab monocline 2, 13, 21, 177, 183, 184, 198 

Echo Cliff monocline 21,39,74,205 

Grand "Wash 2, 12, 19, 23, 42 

Hurricane 2, 5, 20 112, 110, 120, 200, 228 

Sevier 20 

Toroweap 2, 20, 85, 93 

"West Kaibab 2,21, 122,162, 183 

Faults, age of 70, 226, 228 

general account of ig 

Firs of Kaibab 134, 

Forest scenery 13^ 131 

Forests, fossil 69 

Fresh- water lakes, Eocene 215 

Geometric profiles 147 

Gilbert, G. K. , corrasion 231 

effects of arid climate 246 

Glacial period 190, 196, 202, 228 

Grand Cafion, course of 2, 4, 22 

excavation of Chap. XIII 

descent of walls of 97, 159 

Grand Canon district, denudation of Chap. IV 

defined 9 

elevation of 69 

Grand River, flow of 235 

Grand "Wash 12 

Triassic of 42 

Grand "Wash fault 2, 12, 19, 23, 42 

Grandeur of Vermilion Cliffs 52 

Granite Archjean Kaibab 146 

Surprise Valley 161 

Great Basin shore line 30, 32, 38, 42, 65 

mainland Mesozoic 3,38,48,214 

topography 9,60 

Green River, flow of 2S5 

Ground plans of buttes 147, 258 

Gypsum ► 52, 209 

Haze in Grand Canon 152,154 

Heterogeneity of strata, vertical 210, 245 

High Plateaus 2, 9, 28, 29 

Hindoo Amphitheater 169 

History of Grand Caiion district Chap. XII 

Kaibab 187 

Homogeneity of strata, horizontal 210,245 

Horizontality of strata 118, 201. 208, 2J5 

House Rock Valley 201 

Hurricane fault 2, 5, 12, 20, 23, 41, 132, 110, 120, 200, 228 

Inner gorge, Kaibab 146 

rapid excavation of 121 

Toroweap 89, 91 

Joints, Triassic sandstone 53 

JuraBsic, Echo Cliffs 205 




" Jurassic, former extent of 68 

littoralbelt 38 

of the terraces 16, 34 

Sheavwits 113,200 

Kaibab defined 2, 10, Chap. X 

division of Grand Caiion 22, 123 

greater erosion of 258 

lagoons on 137 

structure of Chap. S 

rainfall of 137,236 

ravines of 131 

summit of Chap. VH 

Kaiparowits Peak — 31 

Plateau 14,33,38 

Kanab Canon 13,23,49,80,128 

division of Grand CaBon 23 

Creek 24,49,194 

Plateau 2,10,13,104,124.130 

village '8 

Kwagunt Valley 181 

Lacustrine beds, Eocene 29, 215 

Lagoons 137,174 

Lake basins, formation of 216 

Land areas, Mesozoic 48, 214 

Lava caps 103, lOo 

cascades 85,92,106,116 

Lavas faulted H^ 

of the TJinkaret 82,84,106 

Length of Grand Canon 23,24 

Limestones, rarity in Mesozoic 209 

red wall 89,145,159,164 

Linear aiTangemeut of vents 105 

Lithologic characters of strata 209 

Little Colorado 22,204 

Little De Motto Park 138,171 

Little Zion Fork (Mu-kun-tu-weap) 48 

Valley 58 

Littoralbelt -'' 30,32,38,42,65 

Load transported by Colorado 236 

Logan, Mount 46,103,105 

Mainland Mesozoic of Arizona 215 

of Great Basin 65,67,214 

. MarbleCaBon 2,10,14,22,74,178,203,240 

Marble Canon platform 14, 176, 199, 203 

MarkAgunt Plateau 16,26,27 

Marls, Eocene 27 

Mesozoic lands 48,214 

shore lines 21 

Meteorology of district 237 

MUk Spring 159, 168 

Miocene climate 223 

Monocline, Amphitheaters in 197 

Echo Cliff. 21,39,74,205 

East Kaibab 13, 21, 75, 122, 177, 183, 192, 198 

Moquis villages 176 

Mnav Caiion 163, 165 

Mu-kun-tu-weap 48, 58 

Niches and panels 149, 259 

Nighttravel 124 

Olivine in basalt 82 

Origin of plateau drainage 217 

Ottoman Amphitheater 175 

Outliers, Eocene 31 

Permian 12,15,46,102 

Triassic - 42 


Paleozoic conditions 206 

Panels in red wall 149,259 

Paria Amphitheater 32,38,201 

Paria Plateau 2, 10, 14, Chap. XI 

Paria Eiver 24,49,201 

Paria Village 41 

Parks on the Kaibab 133,135,188,171 

Paninuweap 49,58 

Parusi-wompats 157 

PaunsAgunt 16, 27 

Permian in Echo Cliff 205 

former extension of 3, 68 

at foot of Hurricane ledge 115 

outliers 12, 15 

terrace 17,43,80,123 

remnants, TJinkaret 102, 107, 117 

Persistence of rivers 219 

Pine Valley range 27 

Pines on the Kaibab 133 

Pink Cliffs (Eocene) 16,27 

Pinnacles, Kaibab 165 

Toroweap 85 

Pipe Spring 20, 53, 78 

Plateau, Powell's - - 162 

PUocene climate 187,192,201,223 

Point Sublime Chap. Vni 

Powell, Silurian at head of Grand Canon 179 

Powell's Plateau 162 

Profiles of waUs 85, 147, 227, 251 

Vermilion Cliffs 52 

Queantoweap Valley 106, 109, 115 

KainfaUand altitude 200 

of district 236,237 

of Kaibab 236 

Eapidsin the river 98,241,244 

Eavines of the Kaibab 131,196 

Eecent basalts Ill 

Eecession of cliffs 62,200,249,259 

Bed Butte 15,46 

Bed Wall Group 89,145,159,164,204 

panels and niches 149,259 

recession of 257 

Eipple-marks 69 

Elvers, origin of 219 

persistence of 72, 219 

Sand and clay in river 237 

San Francisco Mountains 15,41,66,224 

San Juan, mesas of 176 

Selenite 210,237 

Shallow waters 210,211,213 

Sheavwits Plateau 2,10,11,101 

basalts of 107 

Grand Caiion in 23 

Triassic strata of 41 

Shin-A-rump Conglomerate 44 

Shinumo Amphitheater 167 

Shiva's Temple 150, 169, 171 

Shoreline of Great Basin 21,48,66 

Short Creek 53 

Sierra country 10,18,27,48,66 

SiHcifled wood 69,211 strata 18,89,180,207,209 

Sinking of streams 129, 196 

Smithsonian Butte 57 

Spanish bayonet (yucca) 128 




Springs in canons 234 

ou the Kaibab 129, 139, 157, 16fi, 171, 173 

Uinkaret 82 

Stewart's Canon 128 

Stratification, argoment from 65 

Streams, absence of, on Kaibab 131, 137 

Sunflowers 80 

Surprise "Valley 160 

Sylvan gate 138 

Table Cliff, Tertiary 32 

Talus of Grand Caiion 147 

formation and functions of 250 

Ta-peats Ampbitheater 158 

Temperature, midday 125 

in the cafion 235 

Temple, Sbiva's 150, 169, 171 

Visbnu's 148, 177 

Temples and Towers of the Virgen 37, 40, 57, 146 

Terraces Cbap. H 

drainage of ' 24 

Tertiary. (See Eocene.) 

Thompson's Spring 171 

Toroweap, descent of 84 

fault 13,23,84 

Valley ^ 4,83,93,98 

Towers at Short Creek 53 

Transept 172,175 

Trias (see, also, Vermilion Cliffs). 

of Arizona 41 

inEchoClifi' 205 

former extension of. 68 

in Paria Plateau 199 

in Sheavwits 200 

in tbe terraces Chap. Ill 

Triassic terrace, erosion of. 62 

Tributaries of Grand Canon 24 

origin of 219 

Trumbull, Mount 46, 79, 81, 103 

Uinkaret Plateau Chap. VT 

defined 2, 5, 10, 12 


TTinta Mountains, Eocene of 28 

Un con form it J, Cretaceous Eocene 28 

by erosion 44, 69, 102, 211 

The Great, pre-Carboniferous 178, 207 

Undermining of basalts no 

hard beds 251, 255 

Uniformity of deposition 208 

of recession 259 

Uplifts of district 69, 77, 120, 191, 216, 225 

Vegetation, desert 127 

Kaibab 131 

eflect on erosion 247 

Vents, basaltic, Uinkaret 104 

Vermilion Cliffs Chap. HI 

Vermilion Cliffs (see Trias) 3, 40, 79, 81, 199 

Virgen, Canons of the... ]43 

River 24, 48 

Temples and Towers of the 37, 40, 57, 146 

Vishnu's Temple 148, 177 

Volcanic action 29 

sands 29 

Volcanism and upheaval 120 

Vulcan's Throne .- 4, 92, 105 

"Walcott, C. D., on Devonian strata 207 

Permian fauna 103 

Permian strata 44 

"Ward, Lester E., flora of High Plateaus 133 

Water pockets 80, 82, 84 

"Water, scarcity of, on Kaibab 129 

supply of Colorado 234, 235 

"Watersheds of the terraces 48 

Weathering 227, 230, 245 

"Western bend of Grand Canon 23 

West Kaibaif fault 2, 21, 122, 128, 130, 162, 183 

Width of Grand CaSon 144 

Wild Band pockets 80 

Witches' Water Pocket 82,84 

Wonsits Plain 82 

Yuccas 128 

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